In a climate of financial uncertainty for public services Eden District Council’s Executive has agreed a draft budget 2019/20 for consultation which includes a freeze in Eden’s share of Council Tax and no cuts to services.
Eden District Council’s Leader, Councillor Kevin Beaty, said: “These are challenging times for public services with a period of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and how local government will be funded in the future. This Draft Budget seeks to lessen the impact of these circumstances on households by freezing any rise in Eden’s share of Council Tax, as we anticipate that the Police and Crime Commissioner and Cumbria County Council are proposing increases in their share of Council Tax to fund policing and adult social care respectively.
“In the Draft Budget, a Band D property could pay £190.75 for District Council services next year. The Council’s aim remains to work more commercially to generate revenue to support services the public value, whilst maintaining the financial discipline that enables the Council to operate from a strong fiscal base.”
The Council’s Draft Revenue Budget shows a deficit of almost £1.2million which can be bridged by drawing on funds from the Council’s reserves, leaving the Council with estimated reserves of £6.2 million.
In the coming months the Council will be shaping a new transformation programme which will work to close this gap through delivering efficiencies and improvements to customers from new ways of working and increasing income. Proposals to achieve this and deliver a balanced budget in future years will be presented when formulated. The Council has already commenced consideration of methods of achieving savings whilst not reducing service provision where possible.
Government funding for Council services in 2019/20 comes from the following sources:
- Rural Services Delivery Grant
- Income from the Business Rates Retention Scheme (BRRS)
- New Homes Bonus
Under BRRS, billing authorities such as Eden District Council, receive a proportion of Business Rates as part of their government funding. Last year, the District Council received 11% of the business rates total for the District around £2.3million.
The Council has made a bid to central government with the other Cumbrian councils to be a pilot for the 75% BRRS in 2019/20. If successful this could raise extra income of £192,000 next year. The Council also continues to invest £4 million in a commercial property fund run by Churches, Charities and Local Authorities Fund Manager Limited. The Property Fund rental share has been budgeted at £216,000 for 2019/20.
Like all other councils, Eden is unsure of its Government funding from 2020-2021. The Government has not yet provided firm information on this. When this is available, the Medium Term Financial Plan will be reviewed.