Farnham Town Council will ask taxpayers for almost £5 extra on average in the 2024/25 financial year to support services for young people in the town.

Councillors set the town council’s precept on Thursday evening, agreeing to increase its share of the total council tax bill by 6.7 per cent to £1,424,818 from April 1.

In Surrey, residents' tax bills are divided four-fold between Surrey County Council, the police and crime commissioner, borough and district councils, and town and parish councils.

The amount paid by a Band D council taxpayer in Farnham in 2023/24 was £2,260.5, with 74 per cent of the total going to Surrey County Council, 14 per cent to the police and crime commissioner, nine per cent to Waverley Borough Council and three per cent to the town council.

At the town council meeting in December, town councillors agreed a budget of £1,447,200 to provide its services for 2024/25, including a new £90,000 fund to support services for young people.

This left a budget shortfall of £112,382 against last year's precept, with members agreeing on Thursday to plug this with £22,382 from the council's reserves and an extra £90,000 in council tax.

Farnham Town Council is the first to confirm its 2024/25 precept, with its £1,424,818 share representing a Band D equivalent amount of £78.15 per annum or £1.50 per week.

This means the Farnham Town Council portion of the council tax bill will increase by £4.93 per Band D property, up 6.7 per cent on 2023/24.

The £90,000 tax grab will though be ring-fenced for “significant new investment in supporting young people”.

The full details of this investment are yet to be disclosed, but council papers have revealed four 'proposed allocations' of the money:

  1. £30,000 for additional town centre outreach earmarked for 40 Degreez youth centre.
  2. £30,000 for activities/outreach in Hale and Wrecclesham.
  3. £20,000 for research in 2024-25 on priorities, need and potential funding requirements by Farnham Town Council for 2025 and beyond to continue to develop a future proof strategy for youth organisations within the FTC area.
  4. £10,000 for programmed activities by partners to provide sustained activity for younger people over the longer holiday periods.

Farnham Town Council joint-leader Graham White presented the precept proposals at Thursday's meeting, and remarked that Farnham's precept amount per Band D home is £6.13 below the sector average – compared to 2013 when it was £5.63 above the average.

This "despite having taken on extra land from Waverley Borough Council, significantly expanding the number of activities being run by the Council, and maintaining high standards of service which have been recognised by national awards," said Cllr White.

He added: "The precept needs to be set in a context of continuing significant economic pressures particularly with energy costs and higher inflation for both the council and for residents.

"Inflation over the past 12 months was at a 40 year high of 11 per cent at the beginning of the year and falling to 6.7 per cent (CPI, September 2023) or 8.9 per cent (RPI) with the Bank of England expecting inflation will not reach its target inflation rate until the first half of 2025.

"Costs have risen significantly for many of the council’s activities."

Cllr White said members "were mindful of the cumulative effect on local residents with other councils’ increases and of the considerable uncertainty with world events" and determined to dip into the council's reserves instead of taking its entire shortfall from the tax bill.

Councillors agreed the precept unanimously with little debate.