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Cabinet to consider draft budget

Published: Tue 1st December, 2020

Charnwood Borough Council has produced a draft budget for 2021/22 which will be considered by Cabinet on December 10.

Residents can have a say on the draft budget before it is considered by Council in February 2021.

Cllr Tom Barkley, the Council’s lead member for finance, said: “This has clearly been a very difficult year for everyone and that includes residents and businesses in Charnwood.

“Our priority has always been to support our residents and businesses throughout the pandemic and that’s what we have done and that’s what we will continue to do.

“We have started our planning for the next financial year, and it is clear that Covid-19 has made an already challenging financial situation worse.

“We have made bold steps to generate more income through commercial investment this year and that will help protect services by replacing some of the reductions in Government funding seen to date.  

“The Council is also embracing new technology to make our services more effective and efficient, such as by making more services available online and self-service helping to reduce costs and improve customer experience.

“However, the pandemic has increased our costs and reduced our income this year. For example, we have had to provide an additional £500,000 to ensure our leisure centres remain open until April 2021. The impact of Covid-19 will still be felt in our finances next year.

“It is clear we need to make some savings and we will still need to use some reserves to plug a gap to ensure critical services continue to operate.

“We also fully appreciate that using reserves is not a long-term solution and we will continue to look for ways to make our services more efficient and to generate income. We also look forward to the Government providing more clarity on improved longer-term funding for local government. We await the Local Government financial settlement in December, and we may need to revisit our draft budget in light of that.

“Overall, in the current climate this is a sensible budget produced in very difficult and rapidly changing circumstances.”

The Council’s overall draft budget for 2021/22 is £19 million. This includes making £1.5m of proposed savings and generating income of around £600,000 largely through investments in commercial properties. It is proposed to increase the Charnwood element of Council Tax by £5 on an average Band D property per year.

Income from Council Tax, business rates and Government grants is expected to be around £17.6 million and therefore there is still a gap of £1.4 million which the Council will use reserves to cover.

The Covid-19 pandemic has added significant costs and reduced income from various areas including car parks, leisure centres and Loughborough Town Hall. The impact is still expected to be felt in 2021/22, accounting for an expected £900,000 of lost income.

Most of the Council’s proposed £1.5 million of savings can be made by making services more efficient. However, some frontline services could be affected and the draft 2021/22 budget proposals include:

  • reducing community grants to £50,000, saving £54,000. These are grants organisations bid for and therefore not core funding.
  • consolidating public toilet provision in Loughborough with Biggin Street toilets currently closed due to the pandemic staying closed. The Market Place toilets will remain open and are about 250 metres away from Biggin Street toilets. This will save £20,000
  • standardising the hours of opening at Charnwood Museum all year round to save £2,000.
  • changing the Mayor’s leased vehicle to electric which would contribute towards the Council’s carbon reduction target and save £2,000 a year on fuel.
  • a proposed increase of the garden waste service charge by £1 to £41 if paid by direct debit from April 2021. If accepted it would be the first increase since 2018 and help to cover the inflation in our costs over time.

This is a draft budget and more details are contained in the Cabinet papers on the Council’s website.

To have a say on the draft budget, please visit: www.bit.ly/CBCBudget

The closing date for comments is midnight on Sunday, December 20.