COUNCIL tax payers in Stratford district will see their bills increase by 3.2 per cent.
But help with the cost-of living crisis and new council services are also part of draft Budget proposals for the area.
Stratford District Council’s Cabinet met on Monday January 16 to approve draft proposals for the District Council’s Revenue and Capital Budget for 2023/24.
And as a result, no council services are set to be cut this year, some new ones will be added and there will be savings of over £1.3 million in total.
Among the extra provision proposed in the 2023/24 Budget are £250,000 to support initiatives that will tackle problems caused by the dramatic increase in the cost of living for some of the district’s residents – with a further £250,000 earmarked for the following year. £100,000 will support energy and financial advice following on from the £50,000 support successfully provided in 2022/23.
Temporary staff will be recruited to support the processing of benefit applications so that benefit claims are paid promptly to those most in need. Resources for Housing First and temporary accommodation will be boosted.
There will be an additional resource to support planning for self and custom-build housing and managing the delivery of First Homes.
And new posts for environmental planning, including a tree officer, will be introduced to support SDC’s commitment to safeguarding the district’s environment.
Residents in a Band D property will see a £5 increase (3.2 per cent) in their council tax in line with government recommendations. This increase will partly offset the increases in costs due to rising inflation. The Band D rate will now be £159.12 for 2023/24. Stratford district remains a low-taxing authority – 19th lowest out of 181 district councils across the country in 2022/23.
The draft proposals will now go for consultation with residents, businesses and the SDC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to presentation to the Full Council meeting on February 27 for final ratification.
SDC’s resources spokesman Coun Trevor Harvey said: “The Cabinet is pleased to endorse a budget that both maintains all current provision of services, in itself an achievement given the rising costs involved, and builds on our current range of services that we provide.
“Sound and prudent financial management has meant that we are well placed to offer essential support to some of those hardest hit by the cost of living increases. We are giving support and advice where most needed to lessen the impact of energy price rises. Money has been set aside to safeguard the council’s finances as we move into the lifespan of the medium-term financial strategy so that we can deliver on our priorities.
“The proposed budget now goes out to the public, to businesses and to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for additional comment. The Cabinet wants this budget to meet the needs of our residents. We welcome input before any final decisions are taken. I am determined that the huge amount of work that has gone into its preparation will best meets the needs and aspirations of those who live and work in the district.”