In common with other parish councils this year, Middleton has suffered a substantial loss in revenue due to COVID-19 and the council tax precept has increased as a result.
The national lockdown restrictions have meant that the village hall has been closed for a year and there is yet no confirmation of when it will be allowed to reopen. Hall hire fees are normally the main source of revenue for the parish council, which normally covers the costs of maintaining the hall and other village amenities, along with a small precept from the council tax. Although the council has stopped all non-essential expenditure from this year's budget and councillors have been working hard to secure grants to make up the shortfall, there remains a gap in the budget and considerable uncertainty over how long the national restrictions will last. Based on the best available forecast at the time of setting the annual precept in January 2021, this resulted in an increase of £34.80 on the council tax bill for a "band D" household.
The chair of the council said "In these unprecedented and challenging times we recognise that the increase in precept is unwelcome news to residents and would like to reassure residents that every effort is being made to pursue alternative sources of income and ensure that the village assets are ready to take advantage of when the lockdown is eased."
The council is in partnership with R Leisure Hire and Town And Country Events following the successful Food On The Green events last year with a plan to to re-open the social club on a regular basis. The council is also putting the balance of the Dong Energy sports field reinstatement payment towards refurbishing the changing pavilion so that it can be hired out to local teams. These developments are intended both to provide better services to village residents and to help reduce the precept to a more modest amount in the coming years.
Residents who struggle to pay their council tax are reminded that Lancaster City Council offers a range of support including a council tax support scheme which provides up to 100% support to households on low incomes.