A COUNCIL tax increase has been approved for North Yorkshire residents.

Ryedale District Council (RDC) last year (2022) froze council tax in a bid to help residents as energy bills and the cost of living rises as part of its final budget.

From April 1, however, RDC will cease to exist and the district will become part of a ‘super’ North Yorkshire Council along with the current county council and six other districts and Scarborough Borough Council.

Under new budget plans for North Yorkshire Council, a 4.99 per cent rise of council tax has been approved – equating to an increase of £83.64 for an average Band D property.

New council facing £30m shortfall

The rise comes after the news that the new North Yorkshire Council will be established in just under six weeks, and is facing a predicted shortfall of over £30 million in the first year of its operation.

Leader of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), Cllr Carl Les, who will also lead the new North Yorkshire Council, said he was aware of the cost of living crisis affecting households across the nation, but maintained that the council tax increase is vital to ensure key public services in North Yorkshire are protected.

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Cllr Les said: “We are facing unprecedented financial challenges in North Yorkshire, and this is without question the toughest budget that I have known in more than 20 years that I have been a member of the county council.

Gazette & Herald: Cllr Carl LesCllr Carl Les (Image: Supplied)

“As a council, we are committed to helping anyone who finds themselves in financial difficulties, and this is even more important while the country is experiencing such high levels of inflation.

“The increase in council tax bills, though, is necessary to ensure that frontline services can continue to be provided. It is an extremely tough decision to increase bills at the current time, but unfortunately it is a choice that we have had to make.”

A spokesperson for NYCC said the multi-million-pound deficit in the new council’s budget will have to be covered through the one-off use of reserves, after some additional savings have also been made.

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“In the longer term, the financial gap is expected to widen and will need to be met by additional savings,” they said.

The spokesperson said a masterplan will now be drawn up in a bid to maximise millions of pounds in savings across North Yorkshire Council to help counter the "unprecedented financial challenges".

The plan to introduce the savings must be set out by this time next year to ensure that the new authority does not have to continue to rely on cash reserves to balance its books.

'Tough financial decisions ahead'

NYCC’s deputy leader, Cllr Gareth Dadd, who is also the executive member for finance, said: “There will be tough financial decisions ahead, but we are committed to making sure that North Yorkshire’s taxpayers see the greatest benefits possible with the launch of the new council.

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“By making this change now to a single authority for North Yorkshire, we will be in a much stronger position to manage the rising costs and increased demand for services.”