Rushmoor Borough Council has agreed a new budget that aims to protect important local services for residents, while at the same delivering its highest priorities, such as town centre regeneration and building new, affordable homes.
The new budget was approved at a meeting of the Council on Thursday 22 February, following recommendations by the Cabinet.
Councillors were told that the new budget for 2019/20 reflected an improved funding position for the council following some technical changes to the Local Government Finance Settlement.
But there were pending consultations – the Fair Funding Review and Business Rates Retention Reform – which could change how the grant is shared among different levels of government and geographically. This has led to uncertainty in future funding estimates for 2020/21 and beyond.
The council’s capital programme of £70.2 million reflected its main priorities of pushing on with the regeneration of Aldershot town centre and Farnborough town centre (the Civic Quarter) and addressing the shortage of affordable homes in the borough.
With the council aiming to become financially sustainable, it has set an annual budget savings’ target of £3.93 million for 2019/20, rising to £5.58 million by 2021/22 – a cumulative saving of £15 million over the three years.
This year, Rushmoor Borough Council’s share of the council tax will rise by only £5.93 a year or 2.99% for a Band D property, from £198.49 to £204.42, which is just over £4 a week for residents. This works out at 11p extra a week.
The council’s share makes up 12% of the overall council tax bill, with 72% going to Hampshire County Council, 12% to The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and 4% for the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Bills will be going out from 7 March onwards.
A household living an average Band D property in Aldershot and Farnborough will pay a total of £1,710.46 in council tax in 2019/20.
Councillor David Clifford, Leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “We’ve agreed an exciting budget that protects our important services and aims to deliver the vital town centre regeneration we urgently need. At the same time, we are trying to keep council tax as low as possible and move closer to financial sustainability. We think that just over £4 a week for residents for all the services we provide represents excellent value for money, while delivering residents’ priorities.”
Councillor Gareth Lyon, Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Corporate and Democratic Services said: “This increase follows many years of frozen council tax, meaning that adjusted for inflation residents are still paying less in council tax to Rushmoor now than they did back in 2010.
“But as a council we are committed to delivering even better value for money to our residents. Our successful investments programme is already making a huge difference and giving us an alternative source of revenue. We will also continue to make efficiency savings in how we operate, whilst maintaining and improving front-line services for residents.”
At the same meeting, councillors decided not to change the current Council Tax Support Scheme, with the current 12% minimum contribution (88% discount) to be retained in the next financial year.