Monday, 27 January 2014

The budget: Penzance Town Council enters the Living Wage era

Tonight at Penzance Town Council the budget was passed. With some toing and froing (more on that later). As part of the budget from April we will officially be a living wage employer.
This cost was absorbed in existing budgets. Over all the precept will rise by 5%. Pushed up mainly due to the reduction in the Council Tax Support grant from Cornwall Council, the rising costs associated with inflation and the (possible) rising costs of cctv (again more on that later).
But it's a great pleasure to serve as a councillor on an authority that pays it staff the Living Wage. I'm delighted something I campaigned on and was in the Mebyon Kernow manifesto has come into being. There aren't many local authorities that do and we are certainly the first in Cornwall to make this step. Although Cornwall Council are considering it, the lack of mention of it in their budget discussions, indicates it's probably nestled in the long grass.
Credit to the staff at the town council, particularly Paul Birch the finanical officer, Simon Glasson the town clerk, Teresa Fogarty,Jackie Stone and the Finance and Property Committee. They are a small team and have worked really hard to keep an eye on costs. It's thanks to them we aren't looking at some of the bigger precept rises (or cuts in services) that other town councils in Cornwall are faced with.
For information it is only a small proportions, around 5%, of council tax that goes to town (and parish) councils. So the 5% precept rise will increase by a mucher smaller amount than it first seems. It will cost the average (I.e Band D) ratepayer £4.06 per year under 8 pence per week. The rise by Cornwall Council and no doubt Cornwall and Devon police will impact a lot more on the final council tax bill.