Council Tax could rise by up to 4.79%

South Ayrshire Council headquarters
South Ayrshire Council headquarters

Residents in South Ayrshire are being asked how they would feel about a council tax increase now that the council has the authority to increase it by up to 4.79%.

The Scottish Government budget settlement gave councils the ability to raise council tax up to 4.79%, which for a band D property in South Ayrshire would be an increase of 16p a day, £1.13 a week, or £58.64 a year.

South Ayrshire Council is already running a consultation process about its budget, which will be set at the end of the month, asking residents to highlight their priority areas for spending, now they are also asking if people would be prepared to accept a higher council tax increase than the previously expected 3% rise.

A South Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “We welcome the new funding from the Scottish Government but the financial situation remains extremely challenging and we are still reviewing the implications.”

South Ayrshire Council and the social work element of the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership face a significant forecast budget deficit of £17m in 2019-20 (£11m and £6m respectively).

The council’s public engagement exercise, which includes the main survey and an additional separate section on a council tax increase, runs until midnight on Sunday, February 17, 2019 and so far there has been a good response, with around 1,000 people giving their feedback. Comments made before the deadline will be considered as part of the budget setting process for 2019/20. Online feedback and discussions with the community will continue through the year to help assess the budget’s impact and to inform future decisions.

Changes being considered by council officials to balance the books include cutting teacher jobs, closing leisure centres at quiet times and stopping Ayr Concert Series funding. South Ayrshire Unison branch secretary Renee Gillan has urged the council to avoid compulsory redundancies, adding that they are particularly concerned about the impact of cuts on the most vulnerable residents.