Council Tax - The Leader's Statement 2017/2018
'We will continue to work as hard as we can to make sure you get the best possible value for money from your council tax...' Statement from the Leader of Basildon Council.
Basildon Council is asking you to pay a little more in council tax next year - this is equal to around 10p a week extra for a Band D property. No one wants to see taxes go up, but while our funding continues to go down, and the cost of services, and demand for them, goes up, we are faced with very little choice.
The good news is that through careful and sensible management of our finances we have achieved our savings target of £3m for the coming year, without implementing the widespread cuts that other councils have had to make.
We are working hard to close a potential budget gap of £9m that would open up by 2019/20 if we did not take action. This year we have made £3m savings leaving a further £6m to find over the next two years - that will not be easy and we are sure to face some difficult decisions to make sure we get there.
We cannot plug the gap through rises in council tax - though small increases may have to play their part. That's why we have ambitious plans for increasing income through a three-pronged approach:
- attracting new businesses to the borough, who will then contribute through business rates
- building the new homes people need that will also earn us money from the government in New Homes Bonus and will result in more people paying council tax
- making the council more commercial by selling services we provide well to other public bodies and organisations, and raising fees and charges where it is appropriate to do so, to raise money that can be invested in local facilities and services.
But we are also committed to keeping the promises we made to you when we agreed our corporate plan in 2015. We have therefore set aside money from our reserves for some key investments for this year to make sure we continue to do that. For example, to help build pride in our local environment we will be investing a total of £360,000 in parks and public open spaces in Wickford Memorial Park, Langdon Hills and in Laindon and Pitsea to complement the regeneration being undertaken there. We will also invest £250,000 (match funding from partners would triple this to £750,000) in Superfast Essex to spread access to superfast broadband across the borough boosting small businesses in particular. We will spend £19,500 on extra street lighting in St Martin's to help keep residents there safer. And we have set aside £300,000 to support regeneration projects that are transforming many parts of our borough.
We will need to keep a particularly close eye on budgets this year as we face a great deal of uncertainty as the country prepares to leave the European Union and international change impacts on the global economic climate.
But I want to reassure you that we will continue to work as hard as we can to make sure you get the best possible value for money from your council tax.
Cllr Phil Turner, Leader of Basildon Borough Council