West Lindsey District Council has launched its budget consultation and is urging residents and businesses to have their say.
The Council will be looking to set its council tax as it makes preparations for its budget for 2022 to 2023. It is offering people an opportunity to understand the current financial situation and share their priorities, helping to make sure that money is spent on local people’s priorities.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Owen Bierley said that those who take part in the consultation can directly shape the final budget for next year.
He said: “Each year the Council must agree a balanced budget. This means that our income must match our expenditure. Over the past 12 years this has been getting more difficult as government funding has fallen significantly by around 38 per cent whilst our costs and service demands continue to increase.
“We were already in a challenging position prior to the Covid-19 which has seen additional demand for services and significant reductions in our income streams. Some support has been provided from the Government however, this support ceases in June 2022.”
“Our financial strategy therefore needs to focus on achieving long term financial sustainability to protect our existing services, as government funding is reduced and our services become wholly funded through Council Tax and Business Rates. In achieving this we need to reduce expenditure, increase income and generate new income from investment.
“This consultation therefore provides an opportunity for you to review and comment on the Council’s approach to meeting the budget and your views on changes in Council Tax.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic and a wide range of uncertainty, the Council is seeing increases in demand for services, increasing costs, reductions in income and continued uncertainty in terms of government funding and the future of the Business Rates system, which is likely to result in a reductions.
Tracey Bircumshaw, Assistant Director, Finance, Business Support and Property Services (S1) at the Council, said: “The Council’s Financial Strategy has aimed to become non-reliant on Government Grant Funding as the Revenue Support Grant ceased in 2019/20.
“Our income from local taxation (Council Tax and Business Rates excluding implications of Covid) is now 84% of our funding (46.6% 2010/11). This reflects the success of budget reductions through Value for Money initiatives, and increased income from both our commercial activities and fees and charges strategy.
“However our forward looking forecasts reflect a funding gap of circa £1m. Each year increased cost pressures need to be met to ensure a balanced budget can be approved.”
The Council would like to know in light of the challenges we have faced this year with the Covid-19 pandemic – what are your top priorities?
A leaflet has been prepared which can be used to help inform residents prior to taking part in the consultation and this can be viewed online. In addition West Lindsey District Councillors and officers will be present on a number of market days throughout the district to discuss the consultation, dates to be confirmed.
The consultation can be completed online through the council’s website or by requesting a paper survey. It starts today (Monday 2 August) and will close at 9am on 27 September 2021.