PLANS to hike council tax are set to be discussed next week.

Cabinet members for Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) will be looking into the authority’s budget and council tax proposals on Wednesday, 14 February with the plan to increase the yearly charge for Band D properties from £136.41 to £141.41, a 3.6 per cent rise.

Current legislation allows an authority to increase its council tax by either 2.99 per cent or a maximum of £5 per year before triggering a referendum.

However the Final Local Government Finance Settlement, which includes information on core revenue funding available for local authority services, including council tax, is due to be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow.

This is the third consecutive year TVBC has opted to increase council tax by £5.

However TVBC has said this "small" increase, equivalent to less than 10p a week, is despite continued reductions in central government Revenue Support Grant and additional spending pressures.

Councillor Peter Giddings, TVBC economic development portfolio holder, said: “Our council tax is the 26th lowest of all the 201 district councils in the country and despite central government spending reductions, we are still able to continue to invest in our residents, communities and businesses.”

“Our central government Revenue Support Grant has reduced by 98.2 per cent in the last five years from £3.1m to only £56k next year and will end entirely in 2019/20. 

"To counteract that our successful Project Enterprise investments in commercial property and housing have helped generate some replacement income.

"In fact we are due to receive £1.3m more income this year than if we had kept our money in the bank.

“We are investing over £450k in 28 playgrounds across the borough as well as other new and improved leisure facilities such as play areas and fitness trails.

"We continue to award grants to new businesses and for improved disabled facilities, develop our towns with the Town Mills Project and Romsey enhancement works and help to provide affordable housing.

“We have made enormous efforts to reduce our expenditure without reducing frontline services.

"In each of the last ten years the reductions to net expenditure identified by the council has been much more than the additional income received through council tax increases.”

During the period from 2008/09 to present the council has delivered budget reductions totalling £11.757m, equivalent to more than £1m per year.

The report also notes that a ‘Special Expenses Levy’ of £296,627 will also be made on Andover properties to cover the cost of providing burial grounds, public halls, sports grounds and playgrounds.

This is a small decrease to £21.75 per year for a Band D property from £21.88.

The final recommendations arising from next week's meeting for the Budget and Council Tax for 2018/19 will be considered by council on Friday, 23 February.