West Lindsey District Council has approved its budget for 2022/23 as it continues to plan to be become non-reliant on government funding in future.
At the full Council meeting last night (7 March 2022), Councillors approved a balanced budget of £14.979 million for the 2022/23 financial year. They also approved a Council Tax rise of £5 - or 10p a week, for the 2022/23 financial year. The average West Lindsey District Council Tax will be £227.74.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Owen Bierley, was pleased to propose the financial plans which contribute to achieving the Council’s vision of making West Lindsey a great place to be where people, businesses and communities can thrive and reach their potential.
He said: “The Chief Finance Officer has given assurance on the robustness of the estimates within the Budget and the adequacy of our reserves to support sustainability.
“The 2022/23 Budget supports delivery of our Corporate Plan objectives, protects our award-winning services, improves our customer’s experience, delivers efficiencies and will continue to deliver value for money for the residents of West Lindsey.
“We have also allocated resources to support the health and wellbeing of our residents to support delivery of better outcomes.”
The budget report highlighted that the Government has provided a 1-year financial settlement additional funding in the form of a £208,000 Services Grant and an additional year of New Homes Bonus totaling £841,000 which the Council has earmarked for future investment.
Despite the 1-year settlement there remains ongoing uncertainty in relation to future funding levels as the Fairer Funding and Business Rate Retention Scheme reviews are finalised as part of an overall review of Local Government funding.
The Chief Finance Officer, Tracey Bircumshaw stated: “This Council will remain proactive in delivering our Financial Strategy over the medium term with the aim of long-term sustainability. This will be achieved through good financial management, investment for growth of our tax base, service reviews, investment in technology and a commercial approach to delivery of our services.”
The financial gains from the 2022/23 settlement has enabled the Council to build up its reserves to support delivery of its corporate strategies. It now has available:
- £250,000 for Culture
- £500,000 for Environmental and Climate Change
- £250,000 for Communities at Risk
- £6,000,000 for Investment for Growth
- £250,000 for cost of change.
A further £250,000 has been allocated for investment in technology, and £250,000 to support the Asset Management Plan and £62,000 to support change management.
The Council’s capital investment programme totals some £33m over the medium term, £17m of which is currently in delivery with business cases and approval required for the remaining projects.
This significant programme is enabled by £22m of grant funding of which £10m has been awarded from the Levelling Up Fund for our Thriving Gainsborough Project, which will provide beneficial outcomes for the wider District.
The budget was guided by the Executive Business Plan and the Medium-Term Financial Plan. The Governance and Audit Committee scrutinised the Treasury Management Strategy and the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee recommended the budget before being approved by Council.
Ian Knowles, Chief Executive of West Lindsey District Council said sound financial management had enabled this budget to be put forward.
He said: “Local people are invited each year to have their say on the budget to make sure that money is spent on local people’s priorities and this budget reflects those views and ensures we continue to offer value for money services. This process was awarded a High Assurance rating (2020) from our Internal Auditors.
“West Lindsey remains committed to long term sustainable approaches through our economic recovery strategy which will reflect and capture both local and global changes including climate change and digitisation. We have allocated funding for investment in schemes designed to contribute to a reduction in our carbon emissions as part of our Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which sets out our aspirations for a greener, sustainable and thriving low carbon West Lindsey.”