Allerdale Borough Council have agreed its revenue budget for the next financial year at the Council meeting held on Wednesday night, March 3 2021.
Speaking on the budget Councillor Mike Johnson, Leader, added: “Our budget is all about investment in our communities. It includes capital for much needed housing in Keswick, and investment into Maryport through the Future High Street initiative. And, of course, the £23m investment into Workington through the Town Deal.
“We acknowledge that budgeting is just that little bit harder for everyone at the moment, whether it be the business community, individual households or even the council. But we firmly believe that if we invest in our council strategy then we can expedite our recovery from the pandemic. This budget lays the foundations, for this council, to play our part in that recovery.”
Councillors also agreed the capital budget for the next three years, which will mean investment throughout the borough.
The agreed budget means that the council can continue to offer key services to its residents, support the area’s communities and help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic as the lockdown restrictions ease.
Like many other local authorities, councillors agreed a £5 annual increase in council tax for a band D property with proportionate increases for other bands. This equates to a rise of just 2.86%.
In a recent consultation on the budget proposals, 60% of respondents supported such a rise, which would mean an increase of less than 10p a week on a band D bill and take the annual payment to £179.72.
Despite the increase, the borough council’s share of the average council tax bill remains less than 10% of the total, and continues to be the lowest bill of all the district councils in Cumbria.
Speaking on the council tax rise, Councillor Jim Lister, Executive member with responsibility for finance and legal, said: “We are acutely aware that this is an additional burden on households but, as with all public services, the council is under pressure financially and needs to protect the vital services it provides, particularly those which are doing so much to support the community during this pandemic.
For those households that are struggling to pay their Council Tax we have a range of support on offer, and this includes our localised council tax support scheme – which provides 100% support to households on low incomes.”
Total revenue spend is budgeted to increase by £924k in 2021/22 to £15.9m, including parish precepts.
Much of the increase is attributable to one-off items to address the predicted impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the council’s finances, as well as address the council’s priorities in helping the area’s communities and businesses as they recover from the disruption of the last 12 months.
It also allows for any extra costs associated with any potential restructuring from local government reorganisation.
The council’s finances continue to come under increasing pressure as government grant funding drops. The money received from the Revenue Support Grant, for instance, has fallen by 90% since 2015/16 to around £200k.
The council continues to do what it can to ensure it effectively manages its income streams. It has, for instance, opted to continue working with other local Cumbrian councils in pooling business rates income.
This provides the opportunity to increase the amount retained in the local area, and also shields against any impacts of any localised volatility in income.
The Council also agreed the capital budget for the next three years. This includes investment through the regeneration programmes in Maryport, and for more than £20m investment into Workington through the Towns Fund. The capital programme also includes investment into much needed housing in Keswick.
Speaking on the budget, Councillor Lister said: “Next year is likely to be another unusual financial year. Our key focus over the next 12 months will be to manage the impact that Covid has had and will continue to have on our finances and ensure that we build this understanding into our future projections.
“Economic regeneration and place shaping around our key towns, villages and businesses will be key to how we recover from the ongoing restrictions. This will ensure that this Council is organised and ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”