Published: Fri 2 February, 2024
North West Leicestershire District Council’s (NWLDC) budget proposing a 2.75% increase in council tax alongside over £4 million worth of one-off investment will go to Council for consideration on Thursday 22 February 2024.
On Wednesday 31 January 2024 Cabinet recommended that the budget was taken to the final decision-making body, following public consultation.
The consultation on the budget proposals received 117 responses.
The proposals for spending £50,000 on improving CCTV and the 2.75% increase in council tax received the most support from respondents, with 63% of people in favour of the increase in council tax.
The proposals with the least support were in relation to the capital projects for Stenson Square and the Marlborough Centre in Coalville.
Additional comments on the draft budget produced some re-occurring themes including:
- Wanting to retain the annual grant for Ashby Museum
- That the proposals were Coalville-centred
- That money proposed to be spent on some projects detailed is substantial in a time of financial deficit and could be used to either address the deficit or reinvested in services.
Individual responses were also received from Ashby Town Council, Age UK and Ashby Museum.
Responding to a number of concerns that the removal of its £1,460 grant would mean closure for the facility, Cabinet agreed to recommended that the Council retains the small grant to Ashby Museum.
In response to concerns about the £21,990 grant to Age UK, Cabinet members kept the gradual withdrawal of the grant in the budget being recommended to Council on the basis that the charity has other funding streams. Cabinet agreed that the council could work with the charity in different ways to maintain support for local people.
Discussions with a cross-party group of councillors resulted in the proposal to remove the freephone number being taken out of the draft budget, and also for the initial charge for bulky waste collections to be reduced – making it £25 for up to three items instead of the previous £28 (with additional items being £6.20 each rather than £5.80).
Councillor Nick Rushton, Corporate Portfolio Holder for NWLDC, said “I’d like to thank those who gave feedback on the budget proposals, and particularly the work of all councillors in the council, as the range of comments and feedback we’ve received were able to inform our discussions.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’re in a position now where we’re having to make some difficult decisions to be able to balance the budget, but we’re proposing to do this in a way that protects our most important services.
“The investments we’re proposing are in priority areas – Coalville being one of those areas - and use either grant funding or one-off reserves. These are investments that build on work we’re already doing, future-proof our buildings and services, or make our work more efficient and therefore economical.
“We need to make these decisions now for future years if we’re to remain on a sound footing. Bankruptcy is not on the cards for us, but we are having to tighten our belts and make decisions that a few years ago would not have been seen as options.”
Main budget proposals
Against a backdrop of having to make savings to close a predicted £2 million gap in its £18.24 million budget, Council will be asked in February to approve a range of efficiency or income generating measures, including:
- Council tax increase
The draft budget includes an increase of 2.75% in the NWLDC part of the council tax bill, which would see most households paying an extra £4.36 a year or less for district council services, including street cleansing, waste collection, parks and leisure.
- Increase in charges for services
The prices the council charges for some of its services – like trade waste collections and sports pitch hire – are proposed to increase by 7%. E.g. This would take the cost of hiring a 3G sports pitch up by between 60p and £2.25 depending on the group making the booking.
- Reduction or removal of some grant funding
NWLDC currently pays out a variety of grant funding to other organisations in the district. Removing some of this funding gradually over a number of years would help to balance the council’s budget when the gap is predicted to increase.
- Use of external funding to invest across the district
The council has UK Shared Prosperity Funding worth £1.2 million, which it proposes to spend across the district – on improvements to Moira Furnace, on a quiet-way in Kegworth, to create new business space in Coalville and to support the National Forest’s ‘Heart of the Forest’ work.
- Using one-off capital money to invest to save
The budget includes some investment of one-off money to support longer-term money-saving or income-generating work. E.g. £150,000 will be spent to demolish the former Council Offices, removing the cost of maintaining and securing the empty building and freeing up the land for sale. £500,000 is earmarked for projects that will save the council money in the longer term, helping to close the budget gap in future years.
The Council meeting on 22 February is a public meeting. Members of the public are welcome to attend in person or watch online.
*£4.36 relates to the increase for a Band D property. 70% of all properties in North West Leicestershire are Bands A – D, meaning the majority of properties will receive this level of increase or less. This figure does not include the other portions of the council tax bill, which are allocated to Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, special expense areas and town and parish councils.
NWLDC budget pressures
- With a likely reduction in funding from business rates and the cost of providing services going up due to inflation, NWLDC is expecting a gap in its budget from 2024.
- From its total £18.7 million budget (not including housing, which is funded through rental income), the council is predicting a £0.3 million shortfall in 2025/26, which could rise to £2 million in 2028/29.
- The authority currently has healthy reserves following years of good financial management and high income from business rates and planning fees.
- The council is now working across all its services to ensure they are provided in the most cost effective and efficient way, as well as considering ways to increase its income and reduce its costs. £500,000 of capital funding has been allocated for this work in the draft budget.