A freeze on car parking charges is included in a package of budget proposals to be discussed by Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet next week (Tuesday 18 December).
The draft budget includes plans to allocate money to maintain verges along the district’s highways to bridge funding cuts made by Worcestershire County Council.
There are also plans to strengthen the council’s planning and environmental enforcement teams to ensure the district continues to be clean, green and looking good.
The council is set to continue to make funding available to local organisations via its Community Leadership Fund and encourage groups and local parish and town councils to take a greater role in running local assets and services. In 2017-18 over 20 organisations benefitted from localism grants totalling £50,000.
Financial investment for these spending proposals will be offset by new targets for the council’s income-generating streams. Currently, we are benefiting from circa £5m each year from a wide range of customers both within and outside the district, with bulky waste collections, trade waste, landscape work and much more being offered.
There will be further investment in properties that are of economic and regeneration benefit to the district. These acquisitions are contributing to an average income of around £300k each year after all costs over this budget strategy; this is more than forecast and is reinvested into the district to protect services.
Despite continuing financial pressures and economic uncertainty the council limited the burden on individual householders by freezing council tax in 2016 and again in 2017 and pegging increases to below-inflation last year.
Next year’s budget proposes a modest increase in council tax for district council services of 2.39%. The increase in the district council’s tax from 2011-12 to 2019-20 taking into account the latest proposal, is only 8.5% compared to a CPI increase of 18.4% between 2011 and 2018 demonstrating that households within Wyre Forest have enjoyed sub inflation increases for many years. For residents in Band D properties the proposed increase equates to an extra £5 for the household. However the average property in Wyre Forest is Band B and the increase represents £3.89 or less than 8 pence a week.
Wyre Forest District Council keeps just a small portion of the council tax it collects – the rest is passed on to other authorities such as Worcestershire County Council and agencies, like West Mercia Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire Service.
So even with the modest increase being proposed in the district council’s portion of bills next year, residents in an average Band B property will still only pay £3.21 a week in council tax for the whole range of district services.
Members of the public will have a chance to comment on the proposals in a budget consultation that will launch on Wednesday 19 December 2018 and run until Thursday 17 January 2018.
Cabinet Member for Resources Councillor Nathan Desmond said: “The economic climate continues to be challenging and uncertain.
“Many councils have opted to slash spending and some to cut services altogether in order to make financial savings. We have chosen a different route.
“As part of our budget consultation last year, more than 51% of residents who completed our annual budget survey supported, or strongly supported a modest increase in council tax to allow us to continue to invest in local services.
“We have listened to what our residents have said, and carefully weighed up the need to invest in services while keeping any additional financial burden to residents to a minimum. I believe this is a fair and balanced budget that will allow us to do just that.
“We will continue to review how we operate, make greater use of technology and digital solutions and take advantage of new income streams to fund services people value the most.”
Wyre Forest District Council Leader Councillor Marcus Hart said: “We have a very successful record in Wyre Forest for looking for new and innovative ways of protecting services. Our Community Localism Fund is not only giving local organisations, town and parish councils greater control over local assets and services, it is also delivering financial savings.
“We are putting a lot of effort into creating new income streams that will bring in extra money to support services and allow us to maintain standards and the quality of life local residents in Wyre Forest deserve and expect.”
Spending proposals for the new financial year will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday 18 December. Residents will be able to watch the meeting live via webcast at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/webcast and comment on the proposals by completing an online budget questionnaire on the council’s website from Wednesday 19 December. Paper copies of the survey will also be available in all council buildings and libraries.
The main proposals include:
For full details please see the Cabinet Agenda and Budget Report.