KEEPING a roof above the head of residents is a priority for council chiefs in the coming year.
Stratford District Council is preparing to set its budget for the coming year and the Cabinet is recommending an increase of one per cent – which equates to a £1.36 a year increase on a Band D property for the authority’s share of the bill.
Council chiefs say they are able to maintain “a relatively low level of Council Tax” as a result of years of “prudent financial management” which has seen reserves of around £9million built up.
Therefore the council plans to use the proposed increase to tackle housing issues across the district – including the possible setting up of a company specifically to provide more affordable homes in the district; tackling homelessness with extra help for the Citizens Advice Bureau which prevented 69 families from becoming homeless last year; and providing temporary housing for residents deemed homeless.
Council leader Chris Saint said: “Funds from reserves are also being allocated to help the homeless, for bed and breakfast costs, as well as initiatives that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services.”
Coun Saint said the budget was also aimed at helping under-pressure families in the district.
He added: “Whilst the district council is facing inflationary pressures of over two per cent increase for pay and contracts, the Cabinet recognises that family budgets are under significant financial pressures, which is why we are proposing to fund the revenue gap using our reserves to minimise an increase for next year.
“Reserves of £9 million have been built up over a number of years within the financial strategy and reflect our prudent and sound financial management, in anticipation of challenging times.
“However, it will ultimately be for elected councillors to decide on any increase.”
Following The Cabinet’s decision on Monday (January 15), the proposals will go out for consultation. A questionnaire will be sent to the Council’s Citizens’ Panel, seeking views on a range of issues including Council Tax and the proposed amendments to the budget.
The results of the consultation will be considered by the Cabinet at the next meeting before the final budget is agreed on February 26.