Against a backdrop of ongoing grant reductions from central government, councillors voted last night (Monday, February 25) to increase council tax on an average Band D property by £5 for the coming financial year. This will be the equivalent of 10p per week, although most Torridge residents will pay less than this. It follows Devon County Councils decision last week to increase its share of council tax by 3.99 per cent (around £53 per Band D property). This means that Torridges average Band D Council Tax will rise from £158.66 to £163.66. Although Torridge collects council tex, it only retains around 8.5p out of every £1 collected. Fire and Police Services have also elected to increase their share, so despite Torridge only adding £5 to the bill the overall level for band D properties will be around £103 higher than last year. READ MORE: County council agrees a four per cent rise in council taxLeader of the council, Councillor Jane Whitaker, said: We all appreciate as councillors that in a low wage economy such as there is in Torridge any increase in the cost of living will have an impact on many households. So, while we might prefer not to increase council tax levels at all, we have pegged this years rise to just £5 a year and to a level which allows us to protect and maintain all our essential services. It is worth remembering that as a council we have successfully achieved all the savings targets asked of us since the financial crisis began, setting and delivering a balanced budget despite ever continuing reductions in central government funding. Councillor David Hurley, deputy leader and lead member for customer services, said: Whilst it is always difficult to recommend and justify a decision to increase the council tax in any year, it is my opinion that small yearly increases are preferable to sporadic much larger increases. READ MORE: How much will council tax rise for Torridge residents in 2019/20?It is now clearer than ever that in the relaxation of government controls it is recognised that there is no additional money at a national level to plug the growing financial gap in providing services locally and the importance of council tax grows year on year. From the information presented to councillors last night it is clear that Torridge is in a relatively good financial position compared to other councils across the country, but we still have substantial forecast budget gaps in the future to address. Counciltax is one of few areas that we have control over to manage our finances and we must plan not just for next year, but for the future and, therefore the responsible thing to do was to vote for this increase. Council tax payers throughout the district can opt to pay in either 10 or 12 monthly instalments, thereby helping them to manage tight household budgets. Torridge also offers additional payment dates each month: residents can opt to pay on the 1st, 7th, 15th, 21st or 28th of each month.