Council sets balanced budget despite challenging financial settlement from central government

Outside the main entrance of the Guildhall in Gainsborough

West Lindsey District Council unanimously approved the budget for 2024/25 prioritising growth, sustainability and community well-being. 

The community driven priorities underscore the council’s commitment to the district as it continues to plan to be become non-reliant on government funding in future.

At the full council meeting last night (4 March 2024), Councillors approved a balanced budget of £18.499 million for the 2024/25 financial year. They also approved a Council Tax rise of £7.01 for the year which is the equivalent of 13p a week for a Band D Property. It means the West Lindsey District Council’s portion of the Council Tax will be £241.55 for a Band D property for the year.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Trevor Young said the approach to setting priorities was shaped by the ‘invaluable feedback from communities. He said: 

“As a new administration we have been able to include priority areas we feel will meet our vision for the district. We have approved the strategy to take legal action against the Home Office to protect investment, Economic Growth and Regeneration at RAF Scampton which will deliver £300m of investment and prosperity to the district. 

“We believe this project has the potential to transform our district, creating opportunities for employment in some of the most exciting 21st century industries.  We believe this project is worth fighting for.”

The council is committed to ensuing the investment brought in from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is maximised. Cllr Young was pleased that the cinema project in Gainsborough is underway and was proud of how the Community Grant Scheme is being utilised.

He added:

“As part of the Community Grant Scheme delivered from funding from the UK government alongside our own matched funding, we are awarding grants for projects across the district to improve our community spaces, places and the activities available to residents. This includes play areas, refit of toilets for accessibility, solar panel projects, heritage projects and befriending services for elderly residents.”

Key priorities this year include

  • Markets - when they flourish, they add vibrancy to public spaces, provide opportunities for social interaction and support the retail sector in our town centres. Gainsborough market place with its market is developed to become the centre of a thriving independent quarter of the town.
  • Culture and heritage - strive to develop successful partnerships around heritage, culture and the arts and use these partnerships to increase opportunities for our communities and help revive our town centres.  
  • Increasing opportunities for participating in sport, leisure and cultural activities is a priority - reverse the decline in opportunities available for residents of West Lindsey. Recruit a sport and a cultural development officer. Work with our Leisure providers developing our programmes in Market Rasen and Gainsborough and explore options for our Leisure centre in Gainsborough to expand and improve this facility.
  • Ensuring the council meets its duties and obligations under the 2021 Environment Act - prepare to deliver food waste collections across the district. Focus on enforcement and anti-social behaviour, increasing fines for fly tipping and recruit two additional enforcement officers. 
  • Investing in green technologies - received £401,500 to make West Lindsey Leisure Centre in Gainsborough more energy efficient by investing in solar panels.

The council has expanded its award-winning waste collection service to offer households the opportunity to hire an extra-large, commercial sized bin for times when more capacity is needed creating an alternative to skip hire. In addition, the council will be consulting with our residents on the green waste collection service to ensure this service best beets the needs of our communities.

Cllr Young recognised the ‘high level of financial expertise’ by council officers in supporting the budget setting. He added: 

“Members of the public will be very conscious that a large number of local authorities are struggling financially with the particular challenges and high costs that the energy crisis has thrown up and with the country slipping into recession, these challenges do not appear to be going away anytime soon.  In the longer-term, government funding may reduce but we are in a good place to meet any challenges from a sound financial position.

“The 2024/25 Budget supports delivery of our Corporate Plan objectives, protects our award-winning services, improves our customers’ experience, delivers efficiencies and will continue to deliver value for money for the residents of West Lindsey. All of this is being delivered to the residents of West Lindsey for an average of £4.65 per week.”

Emma Foy, Corporate Services Director and 151 Officer at West Lindsey District Council, said the budget was guided by the Executive Business Plan and the Medium-Term Financial Plan.

She said: 

“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 still yet to take place as part of an overall review of Local Government funding.  However, by working closely with Members over the last six months, supported by the reserves we have in place we have been able to deliver additional priorities requested by the New Administration maintaining a balanced budget.

“The Council’s capital investment programme totals some £36m over the medium term, £31m of which is currently projected to be delivered in 2024/25. This significant programme is enabled by £23m of grant funding and contributions with the balance coming from the Councils own resources and borrowing.”

The Governance and Audit Committee scrutinised the Treasury Management Strategy and the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee recommended the budget before it was approved by council on Monday.

Watch the Full Council meeting on our website

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