COUNCIL TAX REFERENDUM 'NOT ON THE CARDS'
The Isles of Scilly's council tax would have to increase by "around 50%" to cover the cost pressures at Park House.
It was recently reported that Surrey County Council is holding a referendum to increase its council tax by 15% to fund its own adult social care shortfall.
However, when asked at the recent public meeting about the possibility of holding a similar referendum on the islands, Council Vice-Chair Steve Sims replied that Scilly's increase would have to be significantly larger.
He said: "Council tax is capped at 2%, you can't put it up above 2% without a referendum. However, because the government is trying to thrust the blame for social care inadequacies on to local authorities, we have the option of increasing council tax by an additional 6% by 2020 to cover social care."
Town Hall Head of Finance Diana Mompoloki added: "A 1% increase in council tax only gives us about £15,000 so even if we put it up by 10% it would only put another £150,000 into the pot."
Referring to Surrey's recent decision to hold a referendum, Cllr Sims said: "If we wanted to cover our adult social care, we'd have to put our council tax up by an average of £800 per household - 50%. Frankly I wouldn't vote for that in a referendum."
An audience member responded: "As a person wishing to see the islands continue, if it's not going to come from central government, it's got to come from us. The unfortunate position is we have to raise money or cut services... The only thing I can see on that slide that you can increase is council tax. I'm sure if this was explained properly to the electorate, the electorate are perfectly intelligent enough to work out that you've got to find more money or cut services. I'm sure the electorate are not going to want you to cut more things."
Cllr Sims replied: "I think it's a bit too problematic to try to hold a referendum and we perhaps don't need to do that at this stage."
Scilly's Council needs to save £842,500 in the coming financial year in order to balance its budget.
Cllr Sims told This is Scilly after the meeting: "I don't think we can afford to run a referendum at the moment, elections are expensive. And I'm not sure in all conscience Members could ask people to pay another £800 per year. That's an awful lot of money for people to find, money that won't get spent elsewhere on the islands.
"This issue came up in the meeting because of the recent initiative by Surrey County Council, to illustrate that all councils are essentially in the same sinking financial boat. I want to reassure everyone that the Council of the Isles of Scilly has no plans to reduce residential adult care funding or indeed the service."