Waverley Borough Council is to ask taxpayers for an extra £6 in 2024/25 after council chiefs warned financial pressures mean tough financial decisions need to be made in both the short and medium term.

At the council budget meeting on Tuesday, February 20, members agreed to increase Waverley’s share of the council tax bill by the maximum-allowed 2.99 per cent – increasing its levy on the average Band D home from £201.64 to £207.66 per annum.

It came after councillors were presented with financial forecasts showing the council is facing a £15.2 million budget gap over the next four years.

This has been blamed on rising costs, increased demand for council services and “sustained reductions” in funding by Central Government.

As well as raising council tax, Waverley’s Lib Dem-led ruling coalition proposes a car parking hike, a 7.7 per cent increase to council housing rents, and further collaboration with neighbouring Guildford Borough Council to “protect and enhance” frontline services in 2024/25.

Waverley collects council tax on behalf of Surrey Police and all the other councils in the borough, but it only retains nine per cent of the total bill – with rises also proposed by town and parish councils, Surrey County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Councillor Mark Merryweather, Lib Dem councillor for Moor Park and portfolio holder for finance, said: “Central Government has told us to expect no grant support or business rate income by 2028/29.

“To make matters worse, the Government limits our ability to raise replacement funds from other sources, and actually takes £28 million in business rates out of our borough every year.

“With costs rising and demand for council services increasing, we have limited options available to us. Increases to council tax and other charges are essential if we are to continue providing the high-quality services our residents expect and deserve. 

“People across the UK are suffering because real term funding for the local services on which they rely can’t keep up with the rising costs of providing them. In Waverley, we can maintain the status quo in the short-term but this cannot go on forever and we need a drastic rethink on how local government can be fairly funded in the future.

“Something has to change, and that’s why we are continuing to call for a long-term financial settlement from the Government that gives us greater financial security and allows us to properly invest in our services and the future of our communities.”

The council’s Conservative opposition saw its motion to lessen the car parking hike defeated, and also took issue with the decision to increase tenants’ rents by the maximum-allowed 7.7 per cent.

On the latter, Cllr Peter Martin, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “Last year the raise was held at a more modest four per cent – well below the maximum permitted. But that of course was an election year for the borough council. This year its 7.7 per cent.”