COUNCIL tax for Dorset County Council residents could rise by nearly three per cent in April.

Band D householders in towns including Blandord, Christchurch, Swanage and Wimborne could each pay an extra £33.75 a year if proposals for a 2.97 per cent tax rise are approved at a meeting of all councillors in February.

The authority will also receive an extra 7.1 per cent on its formula grant from central government – boosting council coffers by some £50.75 million, and savings of £4 million are expected from the “fit for the future” efficiency programme.

But cabinet members complained at a recent meeting that Dorset is still set to receive the lowest government settlement per head of population of any shire county.

The county’s taxpayers also contribute the highest proportion of the council’s grant entitlement to a national funding pool – some 11 per cent – the meeting heard.

The authority faces a “significant cash shortfall” in 2011/12 and 2012/13, and budgets for all departments are set to be slashed by one per cent from April.

The £3 million set to be generated by the tax hike and budget cuts has been earmarked for additional social workers for children, fostering and adoption work and services to protect vulnerable adults.

Millions of pounds remain locked in failed Icelandic banks. Some £15 million is still tied up with Landsbanki, while only £2.1 million of the council’s £13.1 million investment has been recovered from Heritable.