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11/02/2014 - CDC Budget 2014/15: balanced and robust

Craven District Council's Policy Committee will tonight discuss the 2014/15 budget. The proposed budget amounts to £ 6.5 million, which will be fully funded by the council's projected revenues. In addition, the council will have a General Fund Balance of £1 million for unforeseen outgoings. Councillors are advised to freeze the council tax for a fourth year.

The Budget proposal is written on the assumption that the Council will accept the central government's 2014/15 freeze grant of £34k, ensuring there will be no increase in the Craven District Council Tax for the third year in a row.

While this is good news for Craven residents, they should note that Craven District Council Tax makes up only ten per cent of the total Council Tax. This equates to less than £3 per week for an average Band D property. Other parties (the county council, police and fire service) set their own rates for their proportion, which is also collected by CDC and then passed on to these authorities.

The Budget also includes £77k of grant funding to Parishes; no increase in car parking charges for the third year in a row (held at 2011/12 rates) and additional savings of £0.4m. As well as maintaining the General Fund Balance at £1m, the Budget makes provision for contributions to specific reserves of £1.2m, with £0.8m allocated to the New Homes Bonus Reserve, to fund priority spending initiatives.

Revenue

The Budget also sets the foundations for the Council to achieve a balanced budget in future years. The Medium Term Financial Strategy, which is also discussed tonight, shows that the cumulative savings the council needs to make between 2014- 2018 is £542k (excluding revenue growth items).

This is primarily due to better than expected revenues from the Business Rates Retention Scheme , which came into force last year. These revenues are expected to further increase from April 1st, 2014 when CDC will form a business rates pool with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), Hambleton District Council, Richmondshire District Council, Ryedale District Council, and Scarborough Borough Council. Being part of this pool means no business rates revenue surplus above the central government levy will flow back to central government. The benefit is shared in full between the pool members.

Another important and positive contribution to the 2014/15 Budget is the continuation of the Rural Grant scheme. Central government is providing £33k to ease the pressures CDC faces providing services to a widely dispersed rural population.

Savings

Councillor Alan Sutcliffe says: "Local Authorities were expecting continuing cuts in Central Government support in 2014. Here in Craven we found our Revenue Support Grant cut by 13.1%. Anticipating this scenario, early last financial year we embarked on a robust cost cutting exercise, which has produced a very creditable £405K of internal savings. Apart from the cut in funding, the budget setting exercise was not helped by the Government's last minute confirmation of essential data. Against this background, the Management Team have done well to come up with a balanced budget and no increase in Council Tax for the fourth year running."