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Council approves 2018/19 Budget in response to continuing financial pressures

Date published: 22 February 2018

Colchester Borough Council's portion of the Council Tax will rise for only the second time since 2010, but by less than the Government's assumption, after the Council met last night to agree the 2018/19 Budget. The 2.75% increase will see the amount a Band D property pays go up by £4.95.

The decision was reached as continuing and increasing cost pressures imposed by central government are set to wipe more than £2m from the Council's budget over the next year.

A £645k reduction in the Revenue Support Grant is confirmed for next year, as part of the government's four-year settlement. In addition, reforms to New Homes Bonus payments means this grant will reduce by £1.34m next year, with further reductions of £1.3m forecast in the following three years.

However, these cuts are not the only financial pressures facing the Council, which also includes costs from inflation, pay assumptions, additional employer pension costs and revised income assumptions.      

The 2018/19 budget includes plans to generate additional income and make further savings in response to budget reductions - many of which are grounded in proposals to work more efficiently and maximise opportunities to increase income. 

Despite a continuing squeeze on the Council's finances, the 2018/19 budget includes a number of recommendations to continue investment and spending in key areas. These include a proposal to allocate just over £1m to help deliver projects which support investment in Strategic Plan priorities, as well as those able to deliver income to assist with managing future budget pressures and which support communities.

Proposals to allocate £750k for the Northern Gateway sports project, £250k to the Revolving Investment Fund and £147k on housing projects were also agreed.

The budget also aims for spending on new capital investment, including £2.9m towards the acquisition of properties for use as temporary accommodation.   

Councillor Paul Smith, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: "There is no doubt that councils are facing some very difficult and serious financial pressures, as a result of the government reducing their funding.

"Nevertheless, this is an excellent budget that will enable us to continue to invest in our priorities for the Borough and support residents in the best ways possible.

"Residents can be reassured that the Council is fully committed to the prudent management of its resources and commercial assets, and that we are looking at every option available to save money, generate income and continue to deliver on our promise to protect vital services, increase investment and create more growth in the Borough."