Why your council tax could rise

Council tax in Greater Manchester could rise to help fund more police and fire officers under plans proposed by mayor Andy Burnham.

The combined authority has revealed that it wants to increase the annual bill for Band D properties by £24 for a year, which is £9 less than last year’s rise.

Mr Burnham said he had made ‘tough decisions’ to protect ‘vital’ frontline services amid ongoing government cuts.

Council tax covers local services such as social care, parks and bin collections while part of the bill – the precept – is used to fund regional services the mayor is responsible for.

If approved by the combined authority, the precept will be added to local council tax bills when they are set by the 10 regional authorities in the coming months.

Mr Burnham said: “I’ve had to make tough decisions in proposing this budget. I need to balance providing the vital services people in Greater Manchester need, deal with pressures from cuts by central government, and make sure the burden on council tax payers is fair. 

“This small rise in council tax I’m proposing – which is lower than the increase in 2019/20 – is to ensure we have a fire and police service that can do the job people expect them to do, and provide support to those in our communities who need a little extra help.”

The proposed increase would pay towards the recruitment of 108 firefighters in 2021/21.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has been ‘hammered’ by the central government, says Mr Burnham, with £23.8m cut since 2010.

Meanwhile the part of the tax which funds the police has yet to be agreed, with a public consultation open until January 27. 

More than £200 million has been cut from Greater Manchester Police budgets since 2010. 

On Wednesday, the government announced a £1.1 billion increase in their direct grant to fund police services – with Greater Manchester set to get an extra £40 million.

This money will be used to fund the first wave of 20,000 additional police officers across the UK, with 347 allocated for the city-region this year.

Deputy mayor Bev Hughes said: “This announcement is long overdue and we are far from undoing the damage of the last decade that has seen local policing cut to the bone.

“But it’s a small first step in strengthening police officer numbers to a sustainable level and ensuring our police service is fairly funded.”

Mr Burnham is also propsing to expand the existing Our Pass scheme, a free bus pass for 16-18 year olds, to include free bus travel for young people leaving care up to the age of 21.

The final budget will be presented for approval at a meeting of the combined authority on February 14.

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