Council Tax may be frozen again in East Lindsey if a new draft budget is accepted by the full council.
East Lindsey District Council’s Executive Board will meet on January 17, 2012, to consider the Council’s draft budget for the 2012/13 financial year. Following that meeting, the draft budget, put forward for consideration by the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Councillor John Upsall, will go to the Overview Committee, before going back to the Executive Board and then full Council on February 29 for further discussion and sign off.
In his draft budget, Councillor Upsall has said the Council should consider freezing Council Tax in the next year. Councillor Upsall also details how the Council can make the savings it requires in the next year without making cuts to front line services, but he does warn that tough decisions lie ahead as the Council prepares for the 2013/14 budget and those budgets beyond.
In developing the budget for the 2012/13 financial year, the Council needs to find a further £2.6m in savings from its £19.4m revenue budget due to reduced Government funding and pressures such as the increased cost of utilities (fuel and electricity). This saving is needed on top of the £3.1m savings delivered prior to the start of the current financial year. In 2013/14, the Council will need to save at least another £1.4m to balance the books.
Councillor Upsall has been clear that his number one priority in putting forward the draft budget has been to protect services to local people and at the same time continue to invest heavily in local priorities, including economic development to support businesses and the community.
The draft budget, if supported, would deliver the required savings through more efficient ways of working, including a £1.2m reduction in the cost of employees following the removal of vacant posts and a senior management restructure. There is also a continued saving from the pioneering shared services company, Compass Point Business Services.
Over the next four years the Council still has plans to invest £500,000 into public toilet improvements, a priority identified in the recent budget consultation. The Council will also continue to invest £1.5m into a grant scheme to support the rural economy and £350,000 into a major festival programme for 2012 that raises the profile of the area as a visitor destination. £976k will also be spent over the next year on Disabled Facility Grants to help with home adaptations. In addition to this, £1m still remains earmarked for flood prevention schemes in Horncastle and Louth – £500,000 each. The Council is also considering further investment of £2.5m to develop affordable homes in the District and support the construction industry.
To deliver the £1.4m budget saving that will be required for 2013/14 and beyond the Council plans to continue reviewing all the services it provides on an ongoing basis to seek opportunities for increased revenue and additional savings to protect front line services.
Council Upsall, said: “The budget I have proposed would allow us to continue to invest in local services over the next financial year and this is positive news. Thanks to a Government Grant I am able to propose that we freeze Council Tax, which if supported by fellow Councillors would means East Lindsey residents continue to pay their District Council one of the lowest rates in Council Tax rates in the country.
“Although we remain well positioned financially compared to many others Council we must continue to manage our finances robustly to ensure we can make the savings required in future years too.
“We will continue to rigorously review our services and look for opportunities to make the additional savings we need, whilst minimising the impact on front line services, particularly those that serve the most vulnerable people in our community.”
The full draft budget is available to view and comment on at www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation until the end of January.