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Council due to consider the Budget Proposals for 2021/22

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Melton Borough Council will formally consider its Council Tax for 2021/22 at the meeting of the Council on 24 February 2021.

The 2021/22 budget has been prepared based on the Council’s approved Corporate Strategy 2020 to 2024 and takes into account the implications of Covid-19 in both responding to the crisis as well as the steps required to support the local community in recovering from it.

The current financial climate remains extremely challenging but alongside proposals to protect existing services and set a balanced budget for the second year in a row, the Cabinet is proposing to develop a new town centre strategy and masterplan, which will create the basis for town centre recovery and regeneration over the coming years following the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed budget also allocates funding for some initial maintenance improvements, including the painting of the town’s street furniture. Funding is also being set aside to support residents in hardship through an extended Council Tax relief scheme.  In addition, new investment proposals will help to support improvements to planning services software and for establishing a business case into rail improvements to Nottingham.

The Cabinet has also made a number of recommendations to invest capital resources including investment in new audio visual equipment to enable live streaming of future ‘in person’ council meetings, infrastructure to support a new Council website planned for later in the year, refurbishment of the footstone bridge at Melton County Park and £100k set aside for rural business diversification grants to support the coronavirus pandemic recovery. The Cabinet is also proposing the continued significant investment in Council housing services as part of the Housing Improvement Plan approved in 2019.

With public finances under increasing pressure, a considerable amount of work has been undertaken to facilitate the proposed investments whilst ensuring a balanced budget can be achieved. The council’s vital response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which included supporting priority community and business needs, has had a significant impact on both increased expenditure and lost income during all of the current financial year. The resulting considerable additional expenditure has only been partly met through government grants and therefore it has been necessary for the Council to reduce expenditure in some lower priority areas to be able to manage its finances. A number of posts have been frozen or removed from the workforce in order to be redirected to the priority growth areas.

Whilst a balanced budget has been set for 2021/22, the potential for additional expenditure to support the pandemic response remains and the financial pressures remain with growing uncertainty around future funding levels. Due to the pandemic, the Government postponed their fairer funding review around how councils are funded in the future, which only increases the uncertainly as it’s likely to have a significant impact on the Council’s financial position moving forward.

Cllr Ronnie de Burle, Portfolio holder for Corporate Finance and Resources said: “The Council has continued to manage its finances well against a background of reduced core government grants and responding to the impact of Covid-19. Looking forward, it is facing a shortfall in funding and also uncertainty around the outcome of the fairer funding review.  While we remain committed to continue to invest in our priorities, we shall also be working with officers to deliver the savings and efficiencies required to balance the budget in the coming years. However, for 2021/22 we are pleased to be able support the delivery of priority initiatives through investment in our town centre and supporting community based people projects”

The proposed budget allows for an overall increase in Council Tax of £5 across all council funds in line with the Government’s referendum limit.

Even with the changes in Council Tax the council is still looking at a shortfall in funding in future years. In recognition of the potential budget gap and the need to continually review the service offer against priorities and value for money a Financial Sustainability Programme is being initiated following the budget. This will consider a range of areas where efficiencies can be made or income generated in sufficient time to inform the 2022/23 budget at an early stage. This will include such areas as regeneration and asset maximisation.

 

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For more information please contact:

 

Dawn Garton

Melton Borough Council

Email: Dgarton@melton.gov.uk

10 February 2021
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