[A]llerdale Borough Council agreed its budget for 2018/19 at the Council meeting held this week (7 March).
The budget manages to maintain the same high-level of public services provided by the Council, in the face of continuing cuts in the grant from central government.
The Council remains committed to its priorities set out in the Council Plan which has a strong emphasis on boosting economic growth, enhancing the area’s town centres, tackling inequality and improving health and wellbeing.
The budget includes measures to help those most in need, including an estimated £3,000 for a Care Leavers Exemption, allowing eligible young adults who have been children in the care system to be exempt from Council Tax. The Council is also able to continue to help those on low incomes with support provided in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The Council’s capital budget includes spending on Disabled Facilities Grants to help those with disabilities remain in their homes, as well as for the Healthy Homes Scheme which aims to improve the standard of homes in the area. The budget also includes £300,000 to improve the Central Way underpass in Workington, money for the restoration of Harrington Reservoir, and a scheme to link Silloth-on-Solway to the West Cumbria Cycle network and the Hadrian’s cycle route.
The Council is committed to boosting economic growth in the area and so the three capital programmes includes investments in Lillyhall to provide a premier employment site in the area as well as a £2.3m investment in the Reedlands Road area of Workington to provide much-needed business units.
Barbara Cannon Executive Member with responsibility for Corporate Resources said: “This budget is all about delivering our promises to our communities set out in our Council Plan with a strong emphasis on supporting economic growth and our self-sufficiency programmes. Central government doesn’t help us with its continued cuts to grants. However, after consulting with our residents, we have devised a budget which will continue to see the excellent standard of service which our residents expect, boost our economy and support those people who are most in need.”
Councillors also agreed a £5 increase of Allerdale Borough Council’s portion of Council Tax, for a band D property. Other bands increase proportionately. This increase is in line with the retail prices index and the rise equates to just under 10p a week for a band D property, and £3.33 a year (or just over 6p a week) for a band A property.
As the billing authority, Allerdale Borough Council collects Council Tax on behalf of other authorities. Some 74% of the money from the average bill goes towards services provided by Cumbria County Council. The Police and Crime Commissioner accounts for 13% of the average bill, with the rest going to town and parish councils.
This means that only 9% of the Council Tax bill goes to help pay for the wealth of services Allerdale Borough Council provides, from clearing away abandoned vehicles to issuing zoo licences and all the services in-between, including planning, housing, building control and waste collection.
Next year the average bill for services provided by Allerdale Borough Council will be £167.99 a year for a Band D property.
The budget decision comes as the grant funding from central government continues to fall. The Council’s net revenue budget for 2018/19 totals £14.6m (including parish precepts). The amount provided by central government from the Revenue Support Grant is £652,000, a drop of 75% from £2.52m in 2015/16. This is expected to drop further in 2019/20, to just £196,000. Changes to the New Homes Bonus has also meant a reduction in this grant funding of £600,000 for next year.
The Council has also identified an overall funding deficit of £2.6m over the period 2018/19 to 2020/21. These are in addition to the £422,000 savings already proposed in the 2018/19 budget. However, the Council has devised a self-sufficiency programme to ensure these savings are met whilst maintaining a high standard of service. Many of the savings are being made through efficiencies in the way the Council provides and procures services, and making better use of technology.
The Council is benefitting from an additional £65,000 from the Rural Services Grant.
The average Band D Council tax is as follows:
|2017/18 £||2018/19 £||% of total bill, 2018/19||Annual increase, £||Annual increase, %|
|Allerdale Borough Council||162.99||167.99||9.3%||5.00||3.07%|
|Cumbria County Council||1281.02||1332.13||74.0%||51.11||3.99%|
|Police and Crime Commissioner||220.77||232.74||12.9%||11.97
|Town and Parish Council (average)||63.40||66.67||3.7%||3.27||5.16%|
Proportional increases to Allerdale Borough Council’s portion of the Council Tax
|Proportional annual increase on £5 for a band D property, £||Increase in pence per week|