One of the lowest council tax rises in the country was agreed by BCP Council, as it adopted its 2021/22 budget last night (23 February 2021). In doing so, it also achieves parity of council tax across the three towns of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, following the creation of a single council in April 2019.
Council tax will be harmonised for all households in the BCP Council area. To achieve this, Christchurch residents’ bills will be frozen at £1,541.57 for the BCP Council elements of every band D property, with Bournemouth residents’ bills rising by 0.76% to reach this level, and Poole households’ council tax rising by 2.99%.
Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, Cllr Drew Mellor, said:
“I was determined to do all I could to protect the spending power of local people, by keeping their council tax to an absolute minimum, and I believe this average rise of 1.55% is amongst the very lowest in the country. This is particularly important at a time of such financial difficulty for our residents. Being able to freeze Council Tax where possible and harmonise levels across the conurbation is also a significant achievement and means all households are now rated the same.”
He added: “Given the significant pressures on our budgets over the last year due to COVID-19, this is quite a feat and demonstrates our commitment to doing our very best for local people and our towns.”
The budget invests an additional £10 million in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) capital projects, £8.5 million to improve children’s services, including a £1 million Family Investment Fund – one of the first of its kind in the country - aimed at helping the most disadvantaged children and young people catch up after the devastating impact of the year-long pandemic and a further £13 million for services for vulnerable adults.
£7.2 million is proposed for new investment in services, including £2 million to be invested in regeneration services and planning. £1.1 million extra is allocated for highways maintenance and street cleansing across the area, scaling up the service in Christchurch to that of Bournemouth and Poole, after the new council inherited lower street cleansing standards in the town when it was formed.
In setting the budget, the council has contributed to our corporate plan commitment to deliver efficiencies that will meet the demands of the Medium-Term Financial Plan and protect vital front-line services.