Vale’s 2022/23 budget protects frontline services, ensures important environmental, leisure and safety improvements and keeps Council Tax increase to under the rate of inflation
Despite a 6.2 per cent reduction in funding from government, Vale of White Horse District Council is set to agree a balanced budget for 2022/23 and, for the first time in several years, is projecting to have surplus general reserves at the end of its 5-year reporting period.
Spending has been allocated to areas identified as important to residents in the Vale’s new Corporate Plan. These include:
- £525,000 on environmental projects including a 5 year programme of Climate Change grants and for tree planting across the Vale
- £1,572,000 for leisure projects in Faringdon, Wantage, Abingdon and Botley
- £450,000 on improvements to play areas and public open spaces
- £185,000 to upgrade CCTV to state-of-the-art technology
- £328,000 for resurfacing and better lighting in public car parks.
Projects will be funded through a combination of housing developer contributions and the council’s own reserves. Vale of White Horse District Council has secured the housing developer contributions from the building of new homes in the area – including both Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 contributions – to help improve community facilities for residents.
The reduction in government funding and with Covid-19 both reducing income and increasing costs means the council is more reliant on council tax and other income to help support its services. However, the Vale has one of the lowest council tax rates in the country for a district council, charging only £146.69 per annum to each Band D household for the services it provides, which is more than 25 per cent lower than the national average. This year’s increase will be less than the rate of inflation.
Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We’ve cut our spending requirements significantly and continue to identify where we can save costs, increase income and run our services more efficiently. Our reserves are budgeted to have improved by more than £8.7 million than when then the current administration took charge of the Council in 2019.
“Securing funding from developers is becoming a more vital resource to help pay for important local projects. Over the next few months, and by working with local communities, we plan to bring more schemes forward to ensure these contributions bring much needed infrastructure to those areas which are seeing significant housing growth.
“While I’m very pleased that we have achieved a balanced revenue budget, made no cuts to frontline services and kept the Council Tax increase below the rate of inflation the ongoing uncertainty around future funding means it remains difficult for councils to plan for the long term and we urge the government to be more upfront on this issue.”
Councillors will consider the Vale’s 2022/23 budget at the Council meeting on 16 February – for more information please see the meeting agenda.
Notes for editors:
Under the proposed council tax referendum principles for 2022/23, district councils can raise council tax by no more than two per cent or £5, whichever is greater, or they will need to hold a costly referendum on the increase.
Unlike many other councils, the Vale does not benefit significantly from the business rates retention scheme which allows councils to keep a proportion of the rates paid by businesses their area to help pay for local services. The council does benefit from over £3.3million “New Homes Bonus” funding but without a firm commitment from the government to extend this source of income beyond 2022/23 action may be needed to protect vital services.
More about the Community Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities must spend CIL funds on infrastructure needed to support the development of their area. They will decide what infrastructure is needed and where the funds should be used.
Where necessary to support development, levy funds can be used to increase the capacity of existing infrastructure or carry out repair work.
Vale of White Horse District Council has already allocated more than £1.1m CIL funding to healthcare infrastructure for projects supported by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and £1.9m to the Oxfordshire County Council for transport and education.