DRAFT budget proposals for Stratford District Council (SDC) have been described as ‘prudent’ by council leader Tony Jefferson.
The proposals, which are subject to public consultation, include a £5 council tax hike on a Band D property.
The proposed increase is the maximum allowed by the government. This means a Band D property would increase in April from £149.12 to £154.12 – in the authority’s share of the bill which amounts to 7.5 per cent. Warwickshire County Council’s precept amounts to the lion’s share of the overall bill at just under 77 per cent with police collecting around 13 per cent and town and parish councils around three per cent.
Other budget allocations include £1million for climate change, £1.8million for merging services with Warwick District Council and £1.6million for arrangements following the recycling facility fire, until the new facility opens in 2023.
Coun Jefferson explained the authority had not received the budget expected from central government.
He said: “Unfortunately, we still have no certainty about the long term prospects of support from central government. We had expected a four year settlement, but once again we have only been provided with a one year allocation.
“The proposals which we are consulting upon are prudent. They allow us to provide extremely valuable resources in some of our key priority areas, including addressing the impact of climate change.”
The authority says the budget has been prepared with the expectation service costs and income will recover to a position more comparable to pre-pandemic times although it has continued to budget for the possible ongoing effects into 2022/23. This includes a drop in tourism.
It also says inflation – which is running above the Government’s target – will be a major pressure on contracted service and employee budgets.
Coun Jefferson continued: “The levels of uncertainty in the wider economy are extremely high. The prudent approach we are adopting will enable us to be in a better position to cope with any unexpected shocks.
“Until we receive greater clarity about our longer term financial position, we have endeavoured to protect the provision of services to residents for next year. “Although we are expecting to make significant savings through our ambition to merge with Warwick District Council, the budget in future years will be extremely dependent upon the level of support from Government. The details of the Government’s Spending Review later this year will, therefore, be crucial for the longer term provision of services.
“Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, a massive impact upon the wider district and on the council. The world has changed, continues to change and we have to continually adapt to that changed world. There is no point pretending that we can ignore the changing world. That would simply deny reality and store up even more difficult decisions in future.”
The draft budget will be used to consult with the public, local businesses and the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee before final recommendations to be made to council are considered at the meeting of the Cabinet on February 7.
To view the proposals in more detail visit www.stratford.gov.uk and make comment there.