Published: Wed 26 February, 2020
As it prepares for future financial changes, North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) has set out a programme of investment across the district whilst maintaining a positive budget.
At its budget setting meeting on Tuesday 25 February the authority approved investment in new council homes, carbon reduction measures, tourism and tree planting.
For the eleventh year in a row, the NWLDC portion of the council tax bill will be frozen. The council has approved an increase in council tax in some areas with special expenses, where it provides services that would usually be provided by parish or town councils like play areas and open spaces.
Whilst it won’t receive a Revenue Support Grant from Government, a positive approach to house building and business development means the council will receive an additional £350,000 in New Homes Bonus payments as well as £500,000 in business rates, taking the total budget for these two funding streams combined to £10.3 million.
House building and investment in council homes
Within its housing service, NWLDC will increase rents by up to 2.7% in line with government policy. This follows four years of 1% rent cuts and will generate an additional £297,000 that will be reinvested back into council properties.
In the next year, NWLDC has allocated £3.8 million to start building or buying 34 new council homes across the district and complete eight that have already started. This will take the total number of new council homes in North West Leicestershire to 138 since the council started building and acquiring new homes in 2017.
It will also spend £3.9 million improving and maintaining council homes, including replacing bathrooms, kitchens and roofs and making other improvements to make sure they meet the Government’s decent homes standard.
Carbon reduction, tree planting and forest festival
Having declared a climate emergency in 2019, NWLDC has allocated £1 million towards carbon reduction measures in 2020/21. This includes extending the number of off-street electric car charging points across the district and investing £885,000 into a climate change reserve to fund further initiatives.
With its home in the heart of the National Forest, NWLDC is investing an additional £13,000 to expand its popular Free Tree Scheme this year, as well as £15,000 to maintain additional trees planted in Coalville and a £10,000 grant to Timber Festival – the third and final year of council support to establish this festival in the district.
Sensible financial planning for self-sufficiency
This is the second year that the council has received no money from central Government in the form of the Revenue Support Grant.
In response to this and to prepare for further funding changes in the future, NWLDC set up a self-sufficiency fund in 2018.
With the addition of £630,000 contributed in next year’s budget, the fund is set to stand at over £5 million by March 2021. It will be used for projects and investments that will allow the council to be self-sufficient.
Councillor Nick Rushton, Corporate Portfolio Holder for NWLDC, said: “Our current finances are in a really healthy state due to good planning and sensible investment. This means we are able to invest heavily across the district in things like carbon reduction, leisure provision and council homes whilst maintaining our freeze on council tax.
“At the same time, it’s important that we maintain a good financial position as a council, so we are planning sensibly for future with reserves available to help plan for future changes.”