Councillors to consider budget for 2021/22
Councillors are set to discuss the first draft of Babergh District Council’s budget for 2021/22 next month – designed to deliver financial stability post-Covid while still delivering the council’s commitment to climate change.
Babergh District Council’s cabinet is due to decide in the New Year whether to approve proposals that would see a 2.96% increase in council tax – meaning an extra £5 a year (or less than 10p a week) 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.
The budget is set to be considered by Babergh cabinet members on Thursday 7 January and by Overview and Scrutiny on Monday 18 January. It will then receive further consideration at the next cabinet meeting before going to Full Council in February. If approved, it will come into effect on 1 April.
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. This means there may be some difficult choices ahead in order to ensure we have the financial resilience and stability to ensure we can continue to offer the services that people rely upon.”
In addition to the council tax increase, the draft budget 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.
The Council’s plans for a greener future include proposals (to be heard during the same meeting) to move their vehicle fleet, including 35 waste lorries, to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This move would cut approximately a quarter of councils' total CO2 emissions, but comes at an initial cost of around £50k, with a further £56 - £97k per year to cover fuel costs.
Also on the agenda is parking provision across the district – with proposals seeking a way to retain some level of subsidised parking to support local business, but also encouraging use of more sustainable transport to better balance the needs of local residents, visitors, businesses and workers.
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.