News release from: 06/02/2023
Cabinet Members back latest plans on support for communities, businesses, and the environment
New proposals for the year ahead are outlined in our latest plans to create healthy and connected communities, support local businesses and continue working towards a cleaner, greener future.
The ambitions are among the goals in the Council’s proposed Business Plan and Budget for the next 12 months. Both documents were supported by councillors at a Cabinet meeting today (Monday 6 February 2023). They will be debated by all councillors at the Full Council meeting later this month.
The proposed Business Plan sets out how the Council will work with communities to tackle issues affecting them. Some of the highlights include:
- Work to bring forward community buildings at Northstowe.
- Continued support for the Homes for Ukraine scheme – to help guests who have arrived within the past year to move away from hosts and into more independent living arrangements, wherever possible.
- Continued efforts to reduce fly-tipping at hotspots through cameras, and promptly investigating reports of rubbish being dumped.
- Working with Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, to introduce Civil Parking Enforcement in South Cambridgeshire.
- A new Mobile Warden scheme, to help keep older people living independently in their homes for longer, for the years ahead
- Grant funding to support projects that benefit the health and wellbeing of residents.
Some of the proposed business support targets include:
- The promotion of local businesses, as well tailored support and resources and identifying funding opportunities.
- Supporting start-ups and small businesses to grow – such as providing space for them at the Council’s Cambourne office.
- Providing advice to help businesses become greener.
- Continuing to help establish and support local markets across South Cambridgeshire.
In-line with the Council’s Zero Carbon and Doubling Nature Strategies, there are plans to:
- Work with Cambridge City Council, the water industry, and others to help address water scarcity in Greater Cambridge.
- Distribute up to £125,000 as part of the Council’s popular annual Zero Carbon Communities grant scheme – which has provided more than £400,000 to around 61 different grass roots projects related to tackling climate change in recent years.
- Provide grants to villages for more tree-planting.
- Award up to £50,000 in grants to help with the installation of electric vehicle charging points at village halls and community buildings.
- Continue with plans for a solar farm to power electric bin lorries at the Waterbeach depot of the Council’s Greater Cambridge Shared Waste service with Cambridge City Council.
- Replace diesel bin lorries as they come to the end of their working lives with low-emission vehicles, or those powered by alternative fuels such as biofuel.
The proposals also outline how the Council is well underway with an ambitious four-year transformation programme that aims to improve the quality of services while making the most efficient use of funds as possible. The programme is forecast to deliver £2million in savings, which have already been identified, during the next three years. The Council continues to look for additional savings or opportunities to generate income further down the line.
The Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the support that we have been able to offer South Cambridgeshire residents and businesses – especially in recent years as we have dealt with the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. These proposals map out our plans for the year ahead and beyond, as we continue our work towards a cleaner, greener district. Whether it be helping communities to tackle fly-tipping, planning for the future of the district, establishing new local markets or supporting people to stay in their homes for longer, we are continuously striving to be a modern and caring Council. I’m looking forwards to debating these plans with all our Councillors later this month.”
Around 40% of the Council’s annual budget is funded from local Council Tax. Other funding sources include some that are outside of the Council’s control, such as Business Rates and grants, whilst funding is also generated from the Council's investments. A £5 per year increase in Council Tax for the average band D home is being proposed to ensure essential frontline services continue to be delivered effectively.
The proposed rise would see the average band D home charge for South Cambridgeshire District Council become £165.31 per year. This is an increase 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.
Most of the Council Tax that is collected by South Cambridgeshire District Council is passed to Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and parish or town councils.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr John Williams, commented: “With the Consumer Price Index currently above 10 per cent, financially, times are tough for everyone; and councils are no exception. We are constantly being asked to do more with less – and this is coupled with an economic outlook that continues to be uncertain. However, through our budget proposals, we’re looking to ensure we provide the best possible support to our residents and businesses – especially those who are most vulnerable. Raising our small share of Council Tax by £5 a year, the equivalent of around 10 pence a week, would mean that we can continue delivering key frontline services that residents rely on. We of course have several ways to help residents with their Council Tax bill if they need support, including the Local Council Tax Support Scheme and one to one advice from officers.”
Elsewhere, the Council’s Housing Revenue Account – a ringfenced account used as the Council maintains its stock of around 5,600 Council homes – has its own budget plans and targets. Some highlights include:
- Having successfully met the target of doubling the number of new Council homes built in South Cambridgeshire from 35 in 2019/20 to 70 in 2021/22, the target is now for 75 new energy-efficient Council homes to be delivered per year.
- During the next two years, more than £2,000,000 has been allocated to continue work to retrofit the Council’s existing housing stock, as part of ongoing carbon reduction efforts.
- Three new staff roles within the Council’s Housing Service are being proposed. All would focus on money advice for the next two years.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr John Batchelor, added: “The budget proposals for our Housing service are ambitious, seek to reduce our carbon footprint and provide support to tenants. This last point is more crucial than ever as we all continue to grapple with the high cost of living. Importantly, we are also looking to continue the momentum that we have developed with the number of new, modern, and energy-efficient Council homes that we bring forwards.”
The budget and Business Plan proposals will be discussed at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 21 February 2023.
The reports discussed by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet can be found within the meeting agenda here: https://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=9490&x=1