News MBC outlines services provided through Council Tax

MBC outlines services provided through Council Tax  image

In the month when residents are due to receive their Council Tax bill, Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has outlined what it pays for and how the money is divided across the services provided to the people who live here.

The Council Tax bill for residents of the borough of Maidstone covers services provided by Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue, and MBC. (Where there is a parish council, the bill also includes a parish precept.)

Maidstone Borough Council accounts for just £270.90 (13.6%) out of the total bill for a Council Tax - Band D payer of £1,988.63; the total bill having gone up by £89.34 (4.7%).  Within this, Maidstone’s share has increased by £5.31 (2.0%), less than the overall rate of increase.  For this, the Council delivers not just refuse collection and street sweeping, it also maintains parks and open spaces, helps to accommodate homeless people, and carries out a wide range of other services.

Mark Green, MBC Director of Finance and Business Improvement said:

“Although many people will not welcome the Council Tax bill it does serve as a reminder that councils provide a variety of important services which they have continued to deliver including refuse collection and street sweeping, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Maidstone Borough Council services have played a big part in the government’s response to the coronavirus, for example supporting vulnerable people and helping to organise virus testing. Looking to the future, the Council will have an important part to play in the recovery from the coronavirus.”

As the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, local councils like MBC have an important part to play in the recovery. The government has provided one-off funding to councils to help them deal with the consequences of the pandemic. Maidstone has deliberately set aside £860,000 of funding that we are due to receive from the government specifically for expenditure on the response and recovery and is currently planning how to make sure that this is deployed as effectively as possible.

Debate has continued regarding the increase of Council Tax but there are a number of reasons why politicians, both at Maidstone Council and Kent County Council, eventually decided to increase the Council Tax in 2021:

  • Expenditure pressures, including combatting homelessness for borough councils, and providing social care for the county council, are continuing to increase.
  • Other sources of income for councils, such as income from car parking charges, have been hit hard by the pandemic.
  • Increasingly, the financial pressures faced by councils mean that they are risk of failure.  The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that around one in 12 English councils are at significant risk of financial failure as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
  • There is a strong correlation between councils that have a low level of Council Tax and financial resilience – and therefore it is too risky for councils not to increase Council Tax.
  • The government itself expects councils to put up Council Tax; its calculation of local government spending power, and hence the basis for deciding how much support it gives to local government, assumes that councils will increase tax by the maximum permissible without calling a local referendum.

MBC also has a capital programme, worth £108 million over the next five years, which will be used to invest across the borough of Maidstone.  Investment plans include new housing, improvements in our parks, and the new Maidstone Innovation Centre based at the Kent Medical Campus - Junction 7 of the M20 to attract new businesses and new jobs to the borough.  The capital programme is largely funded by borrowing, but the Council will ensure (as required to do by law) that the borrowing is affordable and that the schemes in which they invest meet the criteria that the Council has set itself.

Mr. Green added:

“We want all our residents to know that their Council Tax bill, unwelcome though it may be, makes sure that your council carries out all the functions that help make Maidstone somewhere worth living and a borough that works for everyone.”

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