Council approves Budget for investment as financial pressures continue

The decision was reached amidst continuing and increasing cost pressures imposed by central government

Date published: 21 February 2019

Colchester Borough Council’s portion of the Council Tax will rise for only the third time since 2010, after the Council met last night (20 February) to agree the 2019/20 Budget.

The decision was reached just as continuing and increasing cost pressures imposed by central government brings an end to the council’s Revenue Support Grant in the coming financial year.

Members agreed the council’s portion of the Council Tax rate for 2019/20 should rise to £190.62 for a Band D property – an increase of £5.49 (2.97%) from the previous rate. The council has pledged to continue to offer relief to residents most in need, through its Local Council Tax Support scheme. 

It costs around £19 million per year to deliver the services residents, businesses and visitors depend and rely on. Traditionally, much of this money has come from the Government. In 2009/2010, the council received £10.7 million in core Government grant. However, by 2018/2019, this had reduced to £275,000 and in the next financial year the council will receive no Revenue Support Grant at all.

Despite the reductions in Government funding next year, the 2019/20 Budget provides almost £2.4m of investment from the New Homes Bonus for spending priorities. These includethe Northern Gateway Sports scheme, investment in the Revolving Investment Fund (RIF), support for housing, and further support to community priorities such as policing and safety, improving our highways, cleaner streets, Local Plan work and rural projects (including Colchester Orbital). This investment is in addition to the £1.95m already allocated as part of the Better Colchester campaign.

To balance the books, the budget also includes £1.5m of savings and additional income, most of which comes through steps to improve efficiency and ways of working.

Cllr David King, Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: “I am pleased this budget has been agreed by Full Council. It will enable us to continue to deliver on our promise to protect vital services whilst increasing investment, creating more growth and building a Better Colchester for all.

“Despite having to face some very difficult and serious financial pressures because of reduced government funding, we are managing these challenges well and getting the balance right.

“This is a prudent budget that continues to reflect our commitment to regeneration and improvement. It will allow us to continue to provide high-quality services and investment in long-term projects such as the Northern Gateway, but it also keeps back money in reserves to ensure we can meet problems as they arise.

“Residents can be assured the council remains fully committed to the prudent management of its resources and assets in order to continue to protect vital award-winning services, while also increasing investment, creating more growth and delivering a Better Colchester.”

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