South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has approved its historic final budget and set a below inflation Council Tax rise.
The budget agreed at the Full Council meeting on February 22.
It will be the last before the transition to the new Westmorland and Furness Council in 2023.
Councillors approved a below inflation increase of 1.5% in SLDC’s part of the Council Tax bill for 2022/23, equivalent to an extra £3.07 a year on a typical Band D property.
This is the lowest increase for several years, and Councillor Andrew Jarvis, SLDC Portfolio Holder for Finance, told the meeting it reflected the council’s continued strong financial position and meant SLDC could continue to progress and support major projects in its final year and would leave a sound financial legacy for the new Westmorland and Furness Council.
Key priorities agreed for SLDC’s final year before the transition to the new Westmorland and Furness Council in 2023 and underpinned by the new budget include completing the masterplan for the GSK site in Ulverston, which includes making best use of the site to create new employment opportunities and delivering the first phase of a major improvement programme at Ulverston Leisure Centre.
Other significant schemes being supported by this year’s budget include the completion of the new roundabout at Cross-a-Moor, Swarthmoor, the first phase of a roll-out of more electric vehicle charging points across the district and ongoing work on the redevelopment and improvements to Grange Lido and promenade, along with investment in playgrounds, Ulverston Coronation Hall and Ulverston market.
The balanced budget and stable finances inherited by the Westmorland and Furness Council means the new authority should be well placed to continue and develop SLDC’s positive agenda on issues such as tackling issues around climate change and providing more affordable housing.
Councillor Jarvis continued: “This is the 49th and final budget of this council and shows that we remain in good financial health and that we will continue to protect front line services and invest for the people of this area.
“This year’s Council Tax increase of just 1.5%, which equates to £3.07 a year on a Band D property, is some way below the maximum £5 increase allowed and we hope that this will be of some help during this current cost of living crisis.’’
The SLDC element is only part of the final Council Tax bill received by residents. Overall payments also contribute to Cumbria County Council, Cumbria police and the local parish or town council.
At the Full Council meeting councillors also unanimously backed the continuation of a scheme that reduces the amount of Council Tax paid by the most vulnerable people in South Lakeland.
The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which has been in place since 2013, offers up to 100% reduction for all eligible residents, supporting people on benefits or low incomes. It helps nearly 5,000 households in South Lakeland, with just under half of recipients being pensioners.
The scheme was introduced as a replacement for the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme, which was abolished in 2013.
SLDC is one of only a handful of local authorities nationally that continues to offer 100% relief.