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Council tax kept below average

Black circular sign post with Farnham painted in white letters around top of circle

Careful money management has enabled Farnham town councillors to agree a level of council tax that is set to remain below the national average.

Farnham Town Council made the decision at its Full Council meeting on Thursday 23 January, resulting in the portion of council tax that it receives for a band D property being set at £66.09 per year.

“The council has shown continued restraint in budgeting for services to keep the Farnham portion of our residents’ council tax bills at an affordable level. We’ve taken into account inflation, the cost of living and our residents’ incomes as well as global pressures such as the impact that meeting the financial cost of the climate challenge might have on our reserves,” says Councillor John Neale, the Leader of Farnham Town Council. “We have also increased income from sources other than council tax such as sponsorship from a range of local businesses. At the same time, we have taken on responsibility for selected services from our financially squeezed partners in borough and county councils.”

Although residents pay one council tax bill, the money is divided between borough, county, town and parish councils, as well as Surrey Police. Farnham funds many of its services from its share of the tax. The sum Farnham Town Council charges its residents through their council tax bills is known as its precept.

In 2015/6, Farnham’s precept was just over £3 above the national average for town and parish councils. The council has worked hard since to keep its portion of the council tax as low as possible, and in 2019/20 its precept was £3 below the national average.

“We continue to budget sensibly and apply restraint in our spending in order to keep our precept as low as possible. This is at the same time as taking on services to support the borough and county, such as cleaning street signs and managing extra areas of land – all of which costs money – and maintaining high standards across all our services. Just like household budgeting, it is hard and requires perseverance and discipline but for residents, it means that council tax bills will increase by just 3.1p per week. At £1.60 a year, that’s less than a takeaway cup of coffee per household,” said Councillor Neale. The town council set its budget for 2020/21 at £1,400,327. It set the precept at £1,146,027 resulting in the annual cost to a band D household being £66.09 compared to £64.49 in 2019/20.

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