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CDC Budget 2016/17 recommended for approval

Craven District Council's Policy Committee has unveiled a fully funded and balanced Revenue Budget of £7,876,000 for 2016/17.

The budget has been recommended for approval at Full Council on February 25, 2016. The recommended budget will be funded by the council's projected revenues and a contribution from the council's reserves. The council will maintain a General Fund Balance of £995k for unforeseen outgoings.

Councillors deferred the decision on the council tax until the meeting of Council on Thursday February 25, 2016. 

Councillors will be given two options - to increase council tax at Band D by either £5 per year, to £157.21, or by 1.99%, to £155.24.

Council tax has been frozen for five years in a row but the Council Tax Freeze Grant is not available to support any further freezes. The overall Revenue Support Grant from the Government for the council is £697,400, a reduction of 38% from 2015/16, a loss in cash terms of £432,000. The Government has signalled it is intending to reduce RSG to zero by April 2019.

Councillor Richard Foster, Leader of the Council said: "We have some difficult decisions to make due to the ongoing reduction in support from Central Government. Here in Craven our Revenue Support Grant has been reduced by 38% from 2015/16, a loss in cash terms of £432,000. The Government has announced some extra help for those councils particularly badly hit, but we still face severe funding cuts over the next few years.

"Over the last year we have continued to cut costs and increase income wherever possible and we are on track to deliver an underspend against the budget for 2015/16 reflecting the prudent approach taken. Savings of £154k made over the last year lead to a cumulative savings total of £973k. Given the pressures facing local government the council has done very well to put forward a robust and balanced budget.

"We are proud that we have managed to freeze council tax for the last five years, but there is an option to increase it this year. We felt it was important to put this option before all councillors.

"Whichever option they choose, Craven District Council will continue to deliver excellent value for money for residents - £3 per week for all the services we provide, including bin collections, street cleansing, recycling, environmental health, planning, economic development, community events, Craven Swimming Pool & Fitness Centre, Skipton Town Hall and Craven Museum & Gallery. Looking ahead it is imperative that we sustain our income levels and realise the savings that have been built into this year's plan."

Craven District Council tax makes up less than 10 per cent of the total council tax bill. This equates to £3 per week for district council services for an average Band D property. Other parties (the county council, police, fire service and parishes) set their own rates for their proportion and this is collected on their behalf by CDC.

As part of the budget setting process the council has confirmed that it would continue to provide assistance to parishes and so for 2016/17 the Budget also includes £18,000 of grant funding to parishes. The assistance for parishes will reduce in line with the reduction in the council's revenue support grant from central government.

There will be no increase in car parking charges for the fifth year in a row (held again at 2011/12 rates). The council has developed an income and savings plan to assist it in focusing on the projects that it needs to implement to address the reductions in Government Support. Savings achieved in 2015/16 equate to £154k for 2016/17 and this is included within the budget.

As well as maintaining the General Fund Balance at £995k, the Budget makes provision for contributions to specific reserves of 1,128k, with £901k allocated to the New Homes Bonus Reserve. Contributions from reserves which will depend on the level of council tax set will be up to a total of £2,108k meaning a net contribution from reserves of up to £980k.

Final approval of the budget and setting of the Council Tax will be made at the Full Council meeting on 25th February 2016.