Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet has unveiled proposals for a new three year financial strategy and an ambitious budget from 2017-20 for economic and housing growth.
The budget aims to generate income to protect frontline services that communities value and continue to keep council tax low.
Proposals focus on the regeneration and economic development of Wyre Forest to create jobs and much needed housing for local people while also growing its own income generation streams.
For the second year running the budget for 2017-18 includes a proposed Council Tax freeze, with residents having to pay no additional Council Tax for services provided by Wyre Forest District Council.
The budget also proposes the continuation of the Localism Fund which provides much needed investment for local communities.
Members of the public will have a chance to comment on the proposals in a budget consultation from December 21 to 19 January 2017.
Cabinet member for Resources Councillor Nathan Desmond said: “This is truly a budget to invest in our future that will help deliver key objectives to support growth of our local economy in Wyre Forest.
“It is a budget that will help us attract more businesses to the district, create new jobs, more homes for families and ensure our economy continues to go from strength to strength.
“By growing our own portfolio of assets we will also be able to create new income streams to invest in quality services our residents deserve and demand.
“For the second year running we have been able – through prudential financial management – to freeze council tax bills for our services, which will help ease the impact on resident’s household expenses. This means that Wyre Forest’s share of Council Tax will have been frozen for five years out of seven, with the increase in council tax since 2010 well below the rate of inflation for that period.
“Whilst income generation continues to be a cornerstone to our financial strategy we have reviewed all fees and charges carefully – for example our package includes a proposal to cease cemetery charges for burials of children under the age of five to show consideration for families at such a difficult time.”
The proposals will be discussed by Cabinet on 20 December. Residents will be able to comment on the proposals by completing an online budget questionnaire on the council’s website from 21 December. Paper copies of the survey will also be available in all council buildings and libraries.
The main proposals include:
· A new policy for up to £10million to fund loans to third parties to help deliver the district’s regeneration and economic development objectives, create jobs, provide housing and support a successful local economy.
· Creating a new £25 million fund to grow the council’s portfolio of capital assets to invest in new and existing schemes that will produce new income streams and support economic regeneration and housing priorities.
Approval of individual proposals for either loans or property investment will only be made after careful analysis of robust business cases and will need to produce new income streams to ensure the cost of funding (likely to be from borrowing) is fully met.
· Invest and develop the Green Street Depot to support the continuing development of income-generating commercial services which help fund district council services as well as addressing essential improvement.
· Top up the single Localism Fund to £50k to continue the good work done so far in partnership with Parish and Town Councils and other local organisations.
· Provide a further £100,000 match funding investment to support the £3 million Heritage Lottery Funding bid to improve Brinton Park (in addition to the £100,000 already allocated).
· Provide £25,000 to produce a master plan for the potential redevelopment of Stourport Riverside.
· Continue to provide £33,000 for the Community Leadership Fund which supports local charities and good causes in every ward of the district.