Eden Council has been accused of having its moral compass “pointing the wrong way” as district councillors voted in favour of a 2.6 per cent council tax rise for 2021-22.
David Ryland (Ind, Hesket) said at a meeting of the full council last night: “We need to rethink this increase in council tax.
“The amount raised by it is minimal and will not impact on the delivery of services we provide.
“Our moral compass is pointing the wrong way and if ever there was a time to utilise the substantial reserves that council has, it is now.
“Suicides are up, depression has increased, and everyone has had a bad 12 months.
“It’s not about the small increase per month to households, it is the cumulative damage this can do.
“A word of caution, the executive risks losing the current high level of residents’ goodwill in one fell swoop if this is voted in.
“As a member of the budget planning committee that recommended by a majority for no increase I am sorry that this recommendation has been ignored.
“I would urge all members present to really consider their vote carefully. Let us use the reserves to balance the budget.”
It was agreed by a majority of eight, with 20 votes for and 12 against, that the level of council tax for Eden district be increased by £5 a year from £195.75 to £200.75 for a band D property.
The tax rise, which is estimated to yield £104,000, will mean that bills will rise by 6p a week for a Band A property up to 19p for Band H.
Eden Council leader Virginia Taylor said: “A psychological effect has to be balanced against the actual money involved.
“Psychological wellbeing is not greatly improved by being given, as it were, 6p. I think 6p has very little effect on the psychological. It is symbolic.
“I think people are grown-ups and they will be able to accept an incredibly modest rise in their own pocket which will have tremendous benefits for the district.
“It is not wise to take it out of reserves when the future is so uncertain.”
The lion’s share of the overall council tax people pay is set by the county council and the rest is made up of district and parish councils and police precepts.