COUNCIL tax will be raised by nearly three per cent under the newly proposed budget and savings must be made to plus the £27m in Wiltshire Council’s finances.

Covid-19’s impact cannot be understated but the council has said through “sound financial management” it is predicting an underspend at the end of this year (2021/22).

This, it says, will put the council in a strong position to combat the uncertainties of the on-going pandemic. The deficit of £27m amounts to seven per cent of the local authority’s total net budget.

This will mean raising council tax by 1.99 per cent, as well as increasing the social care levy by one per cent – the maximum it can without triggering a referendum.

Social care, the council said, is one of the single biggest challenges it faces moving forward.

READ MORE: Covid infection rates drop by nearly 40 per cent in Wiltshire

It has been confirmed that the council will receive an additional £12.5m in grant funding from the government to go toward local services. Despite this, the gap is still an ever present concern, and Covid is not the only financial challenge facing the council but it is not the only one. Car parking charges could also see changes.

If approved, parking will cost an extra 10p per hour across all council-owned car parks, as well as charging for Sunday parking and blue badge users. It was said this will raise £2.1m over the next three years.

Leader of the council, Richard Clewer said this was the first rise in four years and he wanted it to be the only one this administration makes. These parking charges help to fund rural bus links.

There are also proposals to increase the cost of garden waste collections and to introduce a charge at recycling centres for non-household waste.

In terms of investment; the Conservative led council will still save £1m per year to give to helping high streets in the county's market towns, a general leisure investment of £2m and around £800,000 fixing up the county's highways and footpaths.

READ MORE: Equestrian centre loses bid to temporarily house caravans

Eight million will also go into making the council's building energy efficient to help it become carbon neutral.

"We're not faced with a lot of good options, I'm afraid," said Cllr Clewer. "Like every authority we are struggling to provide services in an environment where costs are going up. We have got to take steps to make sure we have the money to deliver the services that we need to deliver."

The leader added that, while he cannot make cast iron promises, that officers are confident that no redundancies will need to be made under this new budget.

Social housing rent will also be going up by 4.1 per cent, a rise the council says is based on a government rent rise formula.