Babergh budgets for financial stability and sustainability
Councillors have agreed Babergh District Council’s budget for 2021/22 – delivering financial stability post-Covid while still delivering the council’s commitment to climate change.
The budget agreed at last night’s Full Council increases Babergh’s share of council tax by 2.96%, the equivalent of less than 10p a week (£5 a year) for an average Band D property.
The increase is part of a package of measures that will allow the council to meet the medium-term financial challenges presented by the pandemic; help meet its ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030; and maintain services for residents and communities.
Babergh District Council leader and cabinet member for finance, Cllr John Ward said: “We have supported businesses and the most vulnerable in our communities throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so – supporting the local economy and helping our district through this crisis and beyond. However, this is not without cost.
“We have also made climate change commitments that we must be able to afford to meet – not just for Babergh’s residents now, but for generations to come – and there are still ongoing challenges as all councils become independent of Government financial support.
“We secure as much Government funding as we possibly can, and generate much needed income, for example through our commercial property investment company CIFCO, to pay for council services. Without that income we would be in a far worse position and facing far tougher decisions than we are now. However, we still face difficult choices in order to ensure we have the financial resilience and stability to continue to offer the services that people need – now more than ever.”
In addition to the council tax increase, the draft budget will also include a proposed increase of £2.50 a year to the annual brown bin garden waste subscriptions, taking the cost from £52.50 to £55 – the equivalent of an extra 10p per collection.
As well as delivering essential council services, the funds will help support the regeneration and recovery of the district’s market towns – working in partnership with communities to agree and deliver future visions to revive high streets and boost economic growth – while also ensuring the council still meets its commitment to achieve a greener future for residents.
As part of the council’s wider Carbon Reduction Management Plan, it already intends to move its vehicle fleet, including 35 waste lorries, to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This would cut approximately a quarter of councils' total CO2 emissions, but also comes at an initial cost of around £50k, with a further £56 - £97k per year to cover fuel costs.
Cllr Ward added: “We do not take any increases lightly, but by making these difficult decisions now, we can ensure that we are in a position to support Babergh’s recovery post-Covid – and continue to create communities with bright and healthy futures that people are proud to call home.”
Ahead of the budget decision and next year’s council tax bills landing on doormats, residents can check their details and let the council know of any changes 24/7 by signing up for an online account via the website. Through an online account, residents can opt for paperless billing, check their balance, see instalments, update their details and see council tax reduction and housing benefit claim information as well as viewing bills online. You can find out more here.