Climate change funding set for boost in council budget
A 100k boost to fight climate change is one of the measures being put forward in the council's draft budget for 2020/21.
Cabinet will consider the budget proposals at a meeting on Monday 6 January, which also include £1.1m of efficiency savings, 800k of which has been released following a reset of baseline budgets - one of the main recommendations of the Local Government Association's (LGA) Peer Review team.
A further £245k has been found as a result of the merger between Finesse and GLL, which is expected to save around £7.2m over ten years by steadily reducing the fee paid to manage the council's leisure facilities. These savings combined have enabled the council to protect frontline services.
The capital spending programme sets aside £16m for investment in town centre regeneration, strategic property acquisition, Splashlands and a £9m joint project to redevelop the Tewin Road depot - part-funded by Hertfordshire County Council.
The council will invest more than ever in providing affordable homes, with £23m reserved for the Affordable Housing Programme and £13.5m put aside for investment in existing council housing stock.
After four years of rent reduction, council rents will increase in-line with government regulations (Consumer Price Index + 1%), setting the average weekly rent for a council home at £106.16 per week.
Funds will be made available for an additional parking services officer and to retain the council's 13 apprentices, contributing to the council's efforts to help develop young talent in the borough.
A below inflation tax rise (1.49%) will help the council keep up with the rising cost of providing services, with proposals to increase the average Band D tax by just over £3 to £214.92 per year.
Councillor Duncan Bell, Executive Member for Resources, said:
We are really pleased that the LGA's Peer Review team praised our financial track record in balancing the books - and that we've been able to implement one of their main recommendations for the financial year ahead.
We're once again protecting frontline services by delivering new savings, finding efficiencies and developing more ways of generating income. However, we must always be mindful of the financial uncertainty and challenges we continue to face.
I'm proud of this budget and how it supports our priorities to look after the environment, stimulate our local economy, build thriving communities and deliver homes that people can afford.
Following Cabinet, the report will be considered by the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee (ROSC) on 8 January 2020. Recommendations made by ROSC will be presented to a Special Cabinet on 21 January 2020, before the proposals go to Full Council for final approval on 3 February 2020.
To view the report, click here.