The Cabinet’s proposals for Wyre Forest District Council’s budget in 2015-16 onwards have been unveiled.
The plans would see the Council’s net revenue budget rise from £12.9m in the current year to £13.3m in 2015-16 before falling back again to £12.9m by 2017-18. In real terms therefore the Council’s budget would fall across the 3 years covered by the budget strategy.
The main proposals for additional investment at this stage are:
-Continuing to support parish councils and other community groups to take over and run community assets. Funds of £50k would provide financial incentives, while the Council continues to transform services by making internal changes, being as efficient as possible and growing income. The Council has delivered well over £1m of savings in 2014-15 and a significant proportion of future targets;
-In line with the Council’s priority to “support you to contribute to a successful local economy”, the Cabinet proposes to carry on funding the post of town centres manager, reflecting the commitment of work with town centre businesses to support their future prosperity. A separate report about the ReWyre programme sets out plans for a wider regeneration within the district, including improvements to Worcester Street, Kidderminster;
-To foster worthwhile community-level initiatives, the community leadership fund for councillors would continue into 2016-17 providing each district councillor with a budget of £1,000 to support local groups.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Marcus Hart said:
“The Cabinet has demonstrated that its strategic approach has delivered significant benefits for local people and businesses, while maintaining a strong record of financial prudence. The budget strategy continues the balanced approach we have been taking to reduce costs through internal efficiency measures while growing income from sources other than council tax and Government grants.
“We have successfully grown income in 2014-15 in line with the medium term financial strategy. We have already achieved a number of successes including extra green and bulky waste collection income, extra income from the Town Hall and for Arts and Events and the higher property lease income. This includes the news I announced recently of two major tenancies at Wyre Forest House.
“As part of the proposals, we will introduce some new fees and charges and continue to take advantage of commercial opportunities, in order to help protect the services that local communities value.”
The Cabinet Member for Resources and Transformation, Councillor Nathan Desmond said:
“The budget strategy is a tribute to the hard work of staff and councillors in reducing costs and increasing income. In the four years between 2011-12 and the current year, that hard work has meant Wyre Forest has increased its share of the council tax by less than 2%, which is well below the rate of inflation over that period and therefore represents a real terms decrease. This has benefitted local residents at a time when household income has been under pressure. The budget strategy assumes an increase of 1.94% for 2015-16 and I look forward to hearing residents’ views about this as part of the consultation on the budget.”
The budget proposals will be considered at the Cabinet meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 16 December. The public consultation will run until the latter part of January. The budget proposals will be scrutinised by the Cabinet’s Financial Strategy Advisory Panel at its meeting on 27 January: the Panel includes representatives of all the political groups.
The Cabinet will finalise its recommendations to Council, including the level of council tax, at its meeting on 17 February. The final decision on the budget and council tax will be taken by Council on 25 February.