A LOCAL authority has been warned it cannot put off action over its “perilous” financial position for long, despite looking to set an above inflation council tax rise and levy an extra charge to help pay for social care.

Concerns over financing Darlington Borough Council services in the coming years were raised as its influential economy and resources scrutiny committee gave its endorsement to a proposal to increase council tax by 1.99 per cent and charge three per cent more for spiralling costs such as care homes.

The proposed rise will see the average band D property in the urban part of the borough facing having to pay £78 extra to the authority.

The authority’s former leader, Councillor Stephen Harker said the authority would need to make decisions over key services later this year, and the council moving towards a cliff edge by using its dwindling savings.

The council had already stated its use of reserves to prop up servies was not sustainable as the coffers would eventually be depleted, but it was awaiting the outcome of the Government’s Fair Funding Review, which had been pushed back for two years.

Cllr Harker said while the council had been lucky this year, the longer it went on relying on good fortune the greater the risk of the luck running out.

He said while he would not propose wholesale changes to the authority’s budget this year, the council needed to recognise the Government’s support for councils could be hit following the economic impact of the pandemic.

He said: “Going forward we are in a very precarious position.”

The authority’s assistant director of resources Elizabeth Davison said it probably would not be prudent to make decisions about cuts while uncertainty over the council’s future funding remained.

She added if the costs of the Covid pandemic were not included the council would make savings over the coming year, so if the authority continued its innovations and economic growth each year become more sustainable and use less reserves.