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Budget for jobs and housing with no Council Tax rise

Pound coinsThe Executive of Eden District Council is proposing a Budget for 2018/2019 which prioritises growing the economy, delivering more housing and creating more accessible online services for residents.

The budget proposals were announced by the Council’s Executive on 12 December 2017, outlining ambitious plans to deliver on the priorities outlined in the Council Plan over the next four years.

Eden District Council’s Leader, Kevin Beaty, said: “This is a budget proposal for jobs, for housing and for growth, to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses. We are proposing no Council Tax increase in 2018/19, with a largely balanced budget forecast, with only a balance of £60,000 needed from reserves after proposed growth. 

“The withdrawal of Council Special Expenses from 1 April 2018 (used previously to fund specific services in some parishes, such as grass cutting), could mean a Council Tax rise for some areas where Special Expenses were not charged. Our proposals of no rise in the District Council’s proportion of Council Tax will lessen this increase. The budget proposal contains no reductions in District Council services.”  

The main items outlined in the budget proposal are:

Embedding in the annual budget the Eden Community Fund grant scheme of £110,000 a year for all the parishes and local communities to apply for grants to support local projects and events;

  • Devolution of local services to Town and Parish Councils will continue to secure these valued services for the future, with funding support from Eden District Council to assist this happening until 2022;
  • New renewable heating project spend of £150,000 to support renewable and local energy solutions;
  • New digital programme to provide more efficient and cost-effective services to residents 24/7 online. The promotion of broadband access will continue;
  • Investment in planning enforcement so that we have systems in place to secure full compliance with the planning policies and, through that, generating increased investment in development in appropriate places;
  • Continue to support and improve alongside Town and Parish Councils footway lighting throughout the District by continued investment in this service;
  • The commitment to provide loans to a Registered Social Landlord through the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund of £1m will be realised by 31 March 2018.

Councillor Beaty said: “Thanks to the Council’s strong financial reserves, we are able to put forward a series of ambitious measures for discussion as part of the budget proposals. These could help to address the District’s housing needs and create a £300,000 fund to support local services in towns and parishes.

“The main buildings that the Council uses are fantastic old buildings, but they are not suitable for modern working conditions. It is the perfect time financially to look at creating a better place for our staff to work in, to deliver better services while saving running costs. We can also look at how we can use our assets to support economic development and create extra income to keep Council Tax low. We will consult on these matters and, if approved, will include them in the final budget proposal in January 2018, for full Council to consider.”

The additional proposals for consultation, as part of the outline budget, include:

  • Creating a £300,000 fund for Town and Parish Councils to draw down money to maintain or enhance existing services as part of devolution, or use the funding for local capital projects. This will be financed using extra income the District Council has earned over the past two years;
  • Establish a £6 million fund for new affordable homes, to support community-led housing projects and housing provided through the Heart of Cumbria Limited (the Council’s commercial arm). This could be financed by existing Council resources, as the investment will provide higher income returns than is currently available through banks. Income generated will be used to support housing services.

To comment on the Draft Budget for 2018/2019 proposed by the Council's Executive. All responses need to be submitted before Wednesday 10 January 2018 and will be considered by the Council's Executive at their meeting on 28 January 2018.