Rushmoor Borough Council has agreed a new budget with all-party support that protects important local services while delivering its top priorities, including town centre regeneration and tackling climate change.
The new budget for 2020/2021 was given cross-party approval by the council on 20 February. It includes an additional £250,000 to address climate change, £100,000 to tackle deprivation in neighbourhoods and an increase in local ward budgets.
The council’s ambitious capital programme of £52.23 million focuses on town centre regeneration as well as income generation and improving key services to customers.
The council has set a balanced budget for the next financial year as it continues to be more financially resilient. However, there are a number of financial challenges it will face in future years, with a forecast budget deficit of £1.4 million from 2021/22. This will need to be met by further budget savings and efficiencies, some of which have already been identified and were set out in the budget report to the council.
This year, Rushmoor Borough Council’s share of the council tax will rise by only £5 a year for a Band D property, from £204.42 to £209.42, which is an increase of just 10p a week.
The total council tax bill for Band D properties in 2020/21, which includes charges from Hampshire County Council, The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and for the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, is £1,776.22, an increase of £65.76 a year, or £1.26 a week.
The council’s share makes up just 12% of the overall council tax bill for Band D properties, with 72% going to Hampshire County Council, 12% to the Police and 4% to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Bills will be going out from March 4 onwards.
Councillor David Clifford, Leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “This is a budget for action. Our residents want action on regeneration. Our residents have told us they want us to do something on climate change and we will be coming forward with an action plan for tackling that.
“I’m delighted that we were able to work constructively with the opposition on the budget. Although we are the majority party, we think it is important to engage with the main opposition party because we believe that is the kind of grown-up politics that our residents would like.
“This new budget protects our important services and aims to deliver the vital town centre regeneration we urgently need. The income we now receive from our property investments helps us to protect our public services and currently pays for nearly 20% of them. We look forward to improving this figure even further.”
Councillor Paul Taylor, Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Corporate and Democratic Services said: “As a council, our aim must always be to deliver even better value for money, while maintaining and improving front-line services for residents.
“I don’t deny there is a lot to do, but I know that officers and the Cabinet will be continuing to work hard on delivering efficiencies and savings. We know it is a big challenge – but we always meet our challenges.”
Councillor Keith Dibble, leader of the Labour group on Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to work with the majority group during the budget process, which enabled our priorities to be also included. It’s a positive result for residents that we achieved a consensus budget to meet out joint aspirations.”
At the same meeting, councillors decided not to change the current Council Tax Support Scheme for the second consecutive year, with the current 12% minimum contribution (88% discount) to be retained in the next financial year.