PLANS were last night approved (Feb 20) to increase council tax by 2.99%, close one of the last authority-run care homes, and increase the toll on the Itchen Bridge.

As part of Southampton City Council’s budget, the tax rise equates to £41.30 a year extra for Band D homes, which comes as it looks to save more than £15 million by 2021.

Significant cuts were also approved, including around £4 million from the adult social care budget, despite the authority already making across-the-board savings of £136.4 million over the last seven years.

As part of these savings, Glen Lee care home in Bitterne will close which the authority hopes will save around £1 million a year. However, despite previous recommendations, Holcroft House in Thornhill will remain open.

Motorists will also be charged an extra 20p per crossing of the Itchen Bridge. This is expected to raise £510,000 a year.

Speaking at Full Council last night, leader Christopher Hammond said: “Despite the Prime Minister [Theresa May] claiming austerity is over, it seems this is not true, and is actually getting worse.

“It is scandalous how central government are robbing metropolitan authorities, like Southampton, and distributing this to leafy ‘Shire councils.

“We’re putting up council tax as nearly every other council is doing across the country. We do not do this lightly.”

The authority added that only 17% of its budget is made up of council tax funds.

Councillor Mark Chaloner, the authority’s finance boss, added: “This budget shows the resilience of the council, despite all that is going on in Westminster.”

Cllr Hammond also confirmed that the extra bridge cash will go towards maintaining and upgrading the bridge, with the introduction of contact-less payments also expected “soon”.

Currently it costs cars, and small vans, 50p to cross the bridge (60p at peak time), but the new charge will see this rise to 70p (80p) from April next year.

This is the first rise of the toll in two decades.

Other changes approved include a new Adult Social Care charging policy and extra fees council housing residents wanting to use certain services.

The councillors’ expenses budget was also reduced, which will save the council £35,000 per year.