Council properties set for a near 7.5 per cent rent rise

MAYOR Peter Davies wants to increase council house rent by nearly 7.5 per cent as part of plans to freeze council tax.

Under the proposals approved by cabinet, council house rents will be increased by an average of £4.14 in April to £59.44 a week.

The increase is expected to boost income in rent by over £4 million to almost £63 million.

A final decision on the proposals is due to be made by the full council next month.

Mr Davies’ budget plans for 2011-2012 propose that the amount residents pay for council services should be frozen at the 2010 rate of £1,101.71 for a band D property.

The cost of tax for a band A property will remain at £862.80.

The cabinet also approved plans to fund voluntary redundancy and severance costs of £2.8 million for around 110 St Leger Homes staff.

The company, which manages Doncaster’s Council homes, currently employs 747 full-time employees.

Mr Davies told a cabinet meeting that he was pleased with the way the council was working together in a bid to save £71 million over the next three years.

He said: “It has been a revelation this year, it has been a remarkable experience.

“It has not been easy. It’s vitally important that we make the right decisions.

“I am quite proud of the fact that we have managed to keep most essential services intact.

“Some of the things we have saved have not been saved by other authorities.”

Mr Davies, who was elected on a cost-cutting platform, was supported by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, which had considered the budget proposals.

In a report handed to the cabinet, the committee said: “Overall the mayor’s proposals reflect the priorities he has set out and are consistent with delivering the priorities set out in the borough strategy.”

A council report presented to the meeting revealed that a tax freeze would maintain Doncaster’s position as having the third lowest council tax of the 36 metropolitan local authorities nationally.

After the next financial year, it is proposed that the levy will be raised by 2.5 per cent for the three years from 2012 to 2015.

The proposal to freeze council tax has been criticised by Unison Doncaster Branch convenor Jim Board, who said it was irresponsible when jobs are being lost.

Speaking outside the Mansion House Mr Board said: “To have a council tax freeze when we are facing the budget cuts that we are looking at is ridiculous.”

Last year Mr Davies’ bid to reduce council tax by three per cent was opposed by councillors and a vote of no confidence was carried against him.

Full council will discuss the budget plans on February 21.