Greater Manchester residents will face a 7.1 pc increase in part of their council tax bill from April as leaders approve spending plans for the next financial year.
Andy Burnham’s request to raise council tax for his budget has been approved.
The increase of £12 for Band D properties is made up of £5 for fire services and £7 for the general budget to cover bus reform and homeless shelters.
READ MORE: Council tax hike of £22 to pay for police, buses and fire service
It comes after the police precept part of the bill was also raised by £10 for Band D households following protests by members of the public last week.
The Greater Manchester mayor told council leaders on Friday (February 11) that he is ‘extremely conscious’ of the cost of living pressures residents face, claiming he had been ‘careful’ not to increase tax too much in recent years.
But Burnham said there is an ‘exceptional case’ for the council tax hike now.
He explained that the extra funding would allow the fire service to maintain 50 pumps across all of its stations with four to five firefighters staffing each one.
The additional revenue is also needed to fund a pay rise for firefighters which recognizes they may be required to respond to a marauding terrorist attack.
It comes after the fire service in Greater Manchester was criticized by inspectors for lacking the capability to deal with a marauding terror attack – but the watchdog warned not to increase firefighter’s pay for this reason.
Another ‘exceptional pressure’ on the budget next year will be the cost of bringing buses back under public control, Burnham told council leaders.
The Labor mayor said there are still ‘significant uncertainties’ for buses as operators await a government decision on Covid-related subsidies continuing.
He also raised concerns about operators cutting services and raising fares.
Jo is a Local Democracy Reporter covering councils, the NHS and other local authorities in Manchester and Greater Manchester. He has previously covered local government in Bolton, Bury, Salford and Wigan.
You can read more of his stories here and follow him on social media on Facebook or Twitter.
If you want to contact Jo directly, you can email him at [email protected]
Defending the ‘major reform’ to buses, Burnham said: “This is really the moment to do it because the model we’ve had for 35 years is falling apart.
“The very fact that operators are looking to withdraw services tells you that there isn’t the stability in that model and hence this is the moment to change.”
The council tax increase will also contribute towards an extension of the Our Pass scheme which offers free travel for young people in Greater Manchester.
A Bed Every Night, which currently houses around 600 homeless people per night, will also continue thanks to the council tax increase, Burnham explained.
The proposal to increase council tax for the general mayoral budget was unanimously approved by all 10 leaders, including Bolton’s Martyn Cox – the only Conservative councilor on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Council leaders also approved a three-year program for A Bed Every Night.
To get the latest email updates from the Manchester Evening News, click here.