News release from 03/02/2021
Budget proposals to be discussed at Full Council
The latest budget proposals from South Cambridgeshire District Council, which focus on supporting residents and businesses through the pandemic, will be debated at Full Council later this month.
The Council’s Cabinet met today (Wednesday 3 February) and discussed the budget papers, following earlier discussions at Scrutiny and Overview Committee last month. The report presented to Cabinet members highlights how effective budget monitoring arrangements have created a sound foundation for the management of Council finances. The Council has an ambitious 4-year plan to transform service quality, ensure financial resources are fully aligned to business plan priorities and improve customer service.
The next step in the budget-setting process is for all members to discuss and vote on the proposals at a Full Council meeting on Tuesday 23 February.
The proposed budget highlights a commitment to:
- Continuing to lead South Cambridgeshire’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, helping communities to recover
- Continuing to do everything possible to support South Cambridgeshire’s businesses via a fully operational new Business Support and Development Team, which was formed last year
- A transformation programme across the Council, with a key aim being to improve customer service for all residents – especially via an improved digital experience
Like all businesses, the Council has faced challenges in drawing-up the proposals due to the uncertainty over the economy and continuing impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on residents and businesses. This includes the amount of Council Tax and Business Rates being collected that contribute toward the services provided. There is also likely to be reduced income from sources such as planning application fees.
South Cambridgeshire District Council estimates that the cost of dealing with the pandemic so far has been approximately £2.35 million. This is mainly due to increased spending on PPE, additional staff members to help in several areas such as community response, processing business grants and Council Tax support and new software for administering grants. Also, some savings that the Council had envisaged making during the past 12-months have not been possible due to Coronavirus, and income from fees, such as planning and licensing charges, has dropped.
The Council has received £1.9 million in Government grants to help it deal with increased spending due to Coronavirus.
Due to the continuing financial pressure on the Council, the proposals include around £5.1million worth of savings during the next four years, with £2.2million in savings and income already identified.
Around half of the Council’s annual budget of just under £20 million comes from local Council Tax, and a £5 per year increase for the average band D home is being proposed for the next financial year. The proposed increase would see the average band D home charge for South Cambridgeshire District Council increase to £155.31 per year. This is a rise of around 10p per week. Any rise would continue to maintain the Council’s position in the lowest 25% of taxing District Councils in the country.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr John Williams, said: “Councils up and down the country have been at the forefront of helping to deal with the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic and there is no denying the financial pressures it places on all of us. I am incredibly proud of our Council’s response and know there is lots of work still to do, but we are well prepared for the challenge. There have been productive discussions about the challenges around setting our budget at both today’s Cabinet meeting and last month’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee. Our residents and businesses should be confident that we remain in a sound position to support them now and into the future.”