Allerdale Borough Council’s Executive has agreed its proposed budget for the next financial year, which means continued investment in services whilst limiting the financial impact on the council taxpayer.
Despite financial pressures, the Council remains able to provide funding for services and schemes to deliver the key priorities outlined in the new 10-year Council Strategy which was launched last month.
The authority receives income from various sources including Council Tax, government grants and business rates.
Less than 10 per cent of the average Council Tax bill goes towards services provided by Allerdale Borough Council with the majority going to Cumbria County Council, and the rest to Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner and local town and parish councils.
The budget proposals include a below-inflation rise of just one per cent in the council’s portion of Council Tax. This would mean an increase of just £1.73 a year on a band D bill (around 3p a week) or a rise of just £1.15 a year for those in a band A property (2p a week).
Whilst the Council is due to receive an inflationary rise in its funding from the government next year, the amount it receives in government grants has dropped by 96 per cent since 2013/14 to just under £200,000. The council is also facing a £600,000 drop in New Homes Bonus funding.
The waste services contract will be delivered through the creation of a 100 per cent-owned council company and will come with an initial cost, however, the Council is planning for a range of options to be available to reduce the operating costs in future years.
In addition, central government is currently looking at possible changes to waste collection services, and the Executive used the budget’s public consultation to understand how residents in Allerdale felt about different proposals. The results of the consultation showed that charges for replacement bins was the most accepted option with 43 per cent of people in favour of it.
Therefore, like many other councils, the Executive has taken the difficult decision to propose charges, in certain circumstances, from 1 April 2020 to cover the cost of the new bin and delivery.
However, there are no plans to introduce a charge for garden waste collections or move to fortnightly collections. Recycling rounds are also unchanged.
The proposed budget also includes a raft of other measures such as:
- £40,000 towards a new role working with the police in the Community Hub to help continue the success it has had in addressing anti-social behaviour
- £2.2m towards the development of Lillyhall in Workington which, if agreed, will unlock ambitious proposals for the site with the Council applying to the LEP for funding
- £5m to support investment and regeneration
- Reprofiling of the capital budget to allow for some expenditure next year on the evolving sports village plans in the town
- £10,000 towards partnership measures on issues like climate change, digitisation of Cumbria and local government reorganisation
- Continued support for Wigton Baths
- An estimated £52,000 extra income from the decision to bring the market services back in-house
- Some £1.2m on Disabled Facility Grants which cover the cost of building improvements allowing those with disabilities to remain in their homes longer
- £770,000 towards the improvements to the cycle and walking path on the coast as part of the Coastal Communities Fund, and further money to go towards enhancements to Workington’s Brow Top area
- A £50,000 investment into solar panels for the council’s buildings to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions
The proposals were drawn up after an extensive consultation exercise carried out in recent months. The Council received some 479 responses to its budget consultation. Of the proposals, respondents on the whole felt the council should generate more of its own income and make better use of its buildings and assets.
Marion Fitzgerald, Leader of the Council, said: “Council Tax has been increased by the maximum for several years and our proposals mark a departure from this.
“I hope that by doing this, and the recent decision taken by councillors to not accept an increase in their allowances, sends a message to the people of the Allerdale that we know that many residents are having to make savings in difficult times and we are trying to help with that.
“It has been a difficult year with the problems inherited from the waste service but despite that we have managed to find savings and deliver this budget. With this budget and the formation of our 10-year plan it gives us a good platform to move forward with our ambitions.”
Now the Executive has agreed its budget proposals it will be considered at the next Full Council meeting on 4 March 2020.