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Council Tax 2014/15

The Parish Precept 2014-15
The parish council, like the district and county councils, raises money for  its expenditure from your council tax. The parish council element of the council  tax is called the Parish Precept.  Every year, at this time, the parish council is required to submit its  budget. This year the parish council has submitted a precept requirement of  £100,000. This represents an annual rise of £7.68 for a band D property (less for
band A-C properties, more for bands E-H). Any rise in budget demand needs to be carefully considered. The parish
council would therefore like to explain how it has arrived at this demand. 

Presently, the parish council is seeking to buy Grange Field, the field  immediately west of the recreation ground. This has been a long-held ambition,  and would add substantially to the amount of recreation space in the village  centre. Given our rising village population, this is very necessary. Some part of  the purchase cost of the field would, as with the pavilion, be funded by grants.  But inevitably some part of the cost would doubtless fall to the parish council.  It has recently come to our attention that the riverbank along the  recreation ground is falling away. At some point the bank will need to be  reinforced. Although we have, as yet, no firm estimate for the work, we anticipate  it will cost many thousands of pounds.

Lastly, the parish council is aware that the current skate-ramp, though  very popular with the young people, is very expensive to maintain. It is evident  that a skate-ramp made of metal rather than wood would last longer, and be less expensive to maintain. While this project is not currently scheduled, we are keen  to put it on the list. A number of factors have combined recently to affect the parish precept.  For example, while the parish council kept large reserves in hand for the pavilion  project, it received a useful sum of interest which could be used to fund  expenditure. Those pavilion reserves have now been spent. Further, interest rates have plummeted, so that interest on any remaining reserves no longer  contributes much income.

Although the number of households in the parish has consistently gone  up, this has unfortunately not been been reflected by an equivalent rise in  income from council tax. As a result of the government’s recent benefit changes,  the number of houses in our taxbase actually fell in 2013-14, in spite of the new  developments. Effectively this means a reduction in the parish’s income. The  government has set aside funding to recompense parish councils for this change.  This was duly passed on to us last year by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

This year, however, in spite of representations, the district council has decided  not to do so.  With our recent capital projects, and these other factors, the parish  council’s reserves are now much depleted. As well as all the anticipated  spending, we need to be sure we have adequate contingency. For example, we  recently received notice that the parish cemetery could attract chancel repair  liability. We hope our ongoing negotiations will achieve a successful outcome,  but in the meantime, we need to be able to respond to any demand. For all these reasons, we judge it prudent to begin the process of building
up our reserves once more. That is the reason why we have increased our  council tax demand this year.

Lastly, by way of comparison, here are some examples of the parish  precept for 2012-13 from South Cambridgeshire villages of comparable size.
 Parish                                   Population 2011Precept 2012/13 £ per head calculation*
Great Shelford
Bar Hill




*This figure is simply for demonstration purposes and represents the precept divided by the population; in reality the amount you pay in Council Tax is subject to a pro-rata calculation based on council tax bandings.
You will see that we occupy a comparatively low position: one of the cheaper parishes to live in.
Great Shelford Parish Precept: 
2012-13 £85,160
2013-14 £82,803 (original budget £86,750, less £3,947 from the government’s council tax support scheme, as mentioned above)
2014-15 £100,000