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SLDC approves council tax increase

[S]outh Lakeland District Council (SLDC) councillors tonight backed budget proposals and set next year’s Council Tax at a meeting of the Full Council.

They agreed an increase in SLDC’s part of the Council Tax bill equivalent to an extra £5 a year on a Band D property.

This is only the third time in the past eight years that SLDC has increased its share of the Council Tax bill, which means an average Band D property has seen the SLDC portion of its Council Tax increase by just 30 pence a week since 2010.

It ensures the council can deliver a balanced budget going forward, while protecting front line services and investing in several growth proposals.

These include a car parking strategy that will involve investigating new parking sites in Oxenholme, Arnside and Kendal; as well as money towards improvements in leisure facilities in Ulverston and developing the Grange Lido site.

The budget will support the aims laid out in the authority’s blueprint Council Plan for South Lakeland.

The updated Council Plan emphasises the council’s ongoing commitment to its overall targets of enabling 1,000 new jobs and 1,000 affordable rented homes by 2025, and how it will continue to deliver sustainable and cost-effective services.

The SLDC element is only part of the final Council Tax bill received by residents. The overall bill also includes the demands from Cumbria County Council, Cumbria police and the local parish council.

SLDC’s part of the annual Council Tax bill is increasing by 2.69%, while Cumbria County Council’s share goes up by 3.99%, Cumbria police by 5.42% and the average parish precept by 2.24%. Overall that will equate to a 4% average increase on a typical Band D property.

The council has also identified savings through its own efficiencies to ensure it continues to achieve a balanced budget going forward and is developing a plan to address a projected deficit of £2.1 million by 2022/23, mainly caused by changes in government funding arrangements and business rate retention formulas.

Councillor Giles Archibald, SLDC Leader and Finance portfolio holder, said: “This year’s modest increase, which equates to less than 10 pence per week on a Band D property, allows us to present a budget which is not only balanced but sustainable.

“Due to the proportion of houses in South Lakeland banded D or below, this means 70% of homes in the district will see SLDC’s part of the annual Council Tax bill increase by just £5 or less.

“There is still uncertainty over future government funding, but we are a well-run and financially prudent council and have plans to manage the projected deficit going forward.

“Due to that sound financial management we have also been able to go way beyond our statutory responsibilities and deliver real service improvements and investment, despite the tough economic climate of recent years.

“We have recently completed a huge expansion of our kerbside recycling service which means residents in every area of the district can now recycle plastic and cardboard as well as cans, glass and paper.

“We are delivering opportunities for sustainable economic growth and better paid jobs, with the government’s latest Gross Value Added (GVA) figures showing that South Lakeland has the fastest growing economy in Cumbria, while new employment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people employed in ‘professional’ jobs in South Lakeland has risen from 37% to 43% between 2014 and 2017.

“We are also on target to enable an extra 1,000 affordable homes to rent, have paid out £1 million in grants to community schemes since 2013 through our Locally Important Projects Fund and have worked to improve our residents’ health and wellbeing with initiatives ranging from funding cyclepaths and children’s play areas to setting up a multi-agency group to tackle the causes of poverty.

“This budget includes growth items to invest in several areas including identifying money for key projects like Ulverston leisure facilities improvements and the Grange Lido project.’’

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