Last week councillors unanimously approved a budget for next year with no increase in West Lindsey’s share of the council tax bill.
It was just a year ago that West Lindsey District Council was left staggered by the extent and depth of the cuts imposed by the coalition Government through the Comprehensive Spending Review.
We are now in recovery mode aiming to move into a position where we are perhaps the most financially healthy council of our size in the UK.
Last year our Formula Grant, the cash we get from central Government, was £8.7 million. It has been reduced by nearly 25% to just £5.7 million.
This was a heavy hit, but we are still managing to deliver all our services, and have not had to make any employees redundant.
For not raising taxes, we are ‘rewarded’ with a grant of £144,000. A paltry sum you might conclude. But reflect that we do not owe money, and have a healthy reserve, as required by the Finance Act, of £5.5milllion, with reserves for specific purposes at about the same amount.
We have just announced a £50,000 fund for Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations across the district alongside a £250,000 fund for community grants. Shortly we’ll be able to release details of a much larger amount, £1.2 million, which is almost ready for disbursement for developing community assets.
Another area we have had success is the steady return of funds invested in the Icelandic banks. Our preferred creditor status means we’ll secure the majority of our deposits, having already had £2.5 million back.
Yet another happy area is the increase in the New Home Bonus Grant from last year’s £462,000, to £800,000 for the coming financial year. We intend to use the monies to support housing related projects within the district.
To balance this budget we will be delivering over £1million in efficiencies and additional income in the coming year. For example, we have saved £185,000 in waste collection, and realised an important £75,000 economy converting to ‘paperless’ working.
We are in partnership with the county council to bring in super-fast broadband; participating in the core planning strategy - a 20 year plan for homes, jobs and infrastructure; and we will be continuing to regenerate important parts of central Gainsborough, together with setting up neighbourhood forums across the whole of West Lindsey.
We hope you agree we are applying the right measures in a time of austerity. After all, who wants to keep spending our national wealth at £120 million per day on servicing the interest on the national debt?
Leader West Lindsey District Council