Focus on council tax in first of a series of budget facebook chats
People could be willing to pay a little bit more Council tax to protect frontline services according to a poll on Highland Council’s Facebook page.
On Tuesday 27 October Highland Council held the first of a series of Facebook chats on budget issues.
Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson, Chair of the Council’s Resource Committee Councillor Bill Fernie and Director of Finance Derek Yule all took part in the event which focused on the issue of council tax.
The chat was viewed by around 300 people. Around 150 comments were made on the page. These included questions and comments from members of the public and answers from the Council’s participants.
Overall, the post for the chat had a reach of more than 5,000 people. 51 people engaged (liked or shared) with the event.
A poll was included on the page which asked the question “The Council has to save around 6% across all services next year. Would you be willing to pay a bit more council tax to protect some services against cuts eg. education, care, roads, voluntary groups etc?”
128 people have responded to this question to date. 60 people (46.87%) said that they would be willing to pay more Council tax, 47 (36.72%) said they wouldn’t and 21 (16.41%) said that they didn’t know and would need more information.
Many of the questions asked during the session related to where the Council could make savings and many people expressed a concern for frontline services such as winter maintenance. There were also suggestions on other ways in which the Council could raise additional funds.
A wide range of opinions were expressed on the topic of raising the council tax. However, the majority of people said that they would be happy to pay a bit extra on their Council Tax as long as it helps to protect frontline services and doesn’t affect the poorest disproportionally.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson commented on the chat. She said: “Social media is a valuable tool for reaching out and engaging directly with people in our communities. We know that the vast majority of our 10,000 facebook followers are based in the Highlands and this is an easy and convenient way for a great many people to take part in discussions about services.
“We have committed to making budget decisions in an open, transparent and fair manner. It was very valuable to hear a varied range of opinions and ideas and what people really think and I really enjoyed chatting to people in this way.
“I would like to thank everyone who got involved in the chat. I hope that people will also take part in future chats we are planning over the next few weeks and tell us their priorities for how their Council tax should be spent.
She added: “Around 2300 Highland residents on the Citizens’ Panel will be asked questions later this year on budget savings including their view on paying more Council tax to avoid cuts.”
A council tax rise of 5% would equate to just under £5 per month for properties on Band D. The Council will be carrying out consultation on a range of budget proposals, including council tax, with the Citizens’ Panel in November/December.
The second Facebook Chat session of the series; a discussion on Community Services and priorities in your area, will take place on Tuesday 3 November between 17:30 and 18:30. Further details will be posted on our facebook page.