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Statement in response to recent media coverage on our Council Tax

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Recent reports on our Council Tax are based on our 'headline' Band D figure (£1,742). Whilst not incorrect, what the reports fail to mention is that 81% of Fenland's properties are in Bands A-C, compared to 12% in Kensington and Chelsea, London.

It means that the average Council Tax paid per dwelling in Fenland is not only lower than rich London areas, but also lower than the average across the whole country.

COUNCIL TAX FACTS

1)     Explanation of Council Tax position

a)      Our headline Band D Council Tax figure (£1,742) is misleading as most of our properties are below Band D. The average Council Tax paid is much lower, as shown below:

Average Council Tax per dwelling 2017/18:

- Fenland: £1,133.23                                                                                                           

- Cambridge: £1,343.08

- Kensington & Chelsea: £1,207.71

- All England authorities: £1,185.37

b)      Most of our properties are in Bands A-C as shown below:

                                               Fenland               Cambridge          Kensington & Chelsea

Bands A-C (A lowest)              81%                          56%                                12%

Bands D-H (H highest)             19%                          44%                                88%

 

c)       We collect tax for other precepting authorities (using a bill for a Wisbech property as an example):

FDC - 15%

Cambs County Council - 68%

Cambs Police and Crime Commissioner - 11%

Cambs and Peterborough Fire Authority - 4%

Wisbech Town Council - 2%

From that average Council Tax of £1,133.23, Fenland District Council gets just £166 which is great value for the breadth of services we provide.

 

d)      In the last 7 years, the Council froze its Council Tax in 4 out of 7 years.

e)      Council Tax has risen 5.7% in those 7 years, compared to CPI inflation of 16.8%.

 

2)     The Council is in a unique position - rural and one of the lowest lying areas in the UK.

a)      We have to pay drainage boards £1.4 million a year, making up 11% of our annual expenditure, just to keep our feet dry.

b)      We are a statutory Port Authority - we have to provide navigation and marine safety for River Nene. Costs £1m to operate against income of £900k - net deficit cost of £100k, with more funds set aside for maintenance.

c)       We are a rural area covering 210 square miles - refuse vehicles have to travel further.

d)      Examples of great rural services

-          Run 4 leisure centres with 3 swimming pools (supporting our health & wellbeing strategy), providing a great service that 98,000 customers value.

-          4 Customer service centres and hubs - help 71,000 customers a year.

-          Golden Age Fairs - helped over 60s to discover £800,000 of unclaimed benefits.

-          We spend £560,000 a year maintaining our parks and open spaces for all to enjoy, including 44 play areas, and further £520,000 on street cleansing.

-          Free car parking (costs FDC £300,000 a year). 94% of Councils charge for this service!

-          2 business centres with fantastic facilities to support local businesses.

 

3)     We are a well-run, efficient Council

a)      Customer satisfaction

-          99% satisfied with refuse and recycling service

-          98% of streets found to be of a suitable standard upon inspection

-          Reaccredited with CSE - independent assessor praised FDC's emphasis on delivering "excellent, customer-focused services".

-          Housing team saved 106 families from homelessness (2016/17) and offered advice to 1,580 other households - with a 100% satisfaction rate.

b)      More than £9 million saved since 2010, without significant cuts to rural services (mentioned above)

c)       We have the Wisbech 2020 Vision and Wisbech Garden Town plan - working in partnership with local organisations/bodies and Combined Authority to build a better future.

d)      External funding shows confidence in FDC to deliver:

-          £6.5 million from Combined Authority for Wisbech Garden Town

-          £1.9 million from Heritage Lottery for Wisbech High Street Project

-          £800,000 from DCLG Controlling Migration Fund

-          £736,000 from government for Homelessness Trailblazer project, helping those in genuine need.

e)      External audit - independently assessed as a financially well-managed Council.