Investment in services and key projects secure after budget approval
Services will be maintained and investment in key projects will continue after South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) approved its budget plans for 2020/21.
Councillors backed the budget proposals and set next year’s Council Tax at a meeting of the Full Council tonight (25 February).
They agreed an increase of 2% in SLDC’s part of the Council Tax bill, equivalent to an extra £3.91 a year on a Band D property.
This is only the fifth time in the past 10 years that SLDC has increased its part of the Council Tax bill, which means an average Band D property has seen the SLDC portion of its Council Tax increase by just 46 pence a week since 2010. The total SLDC portion of the Council Tax Bill for a Band D property will be £199.54, which equates to 55 pence a day.
The meeting was told that the authority's sound financial situation meant it could progress and support major projects, including £9.2m in relation to Ulverston Leisure Centre; £1.9m in relation to Grange Lido based on the light-touch proposals, as well as an additional to £1 million towards improving the promenade at Grange and the connectivity with the lido site, and £6m in relation to loans to housing associations to develop affordable homes utilising Right to Buy receipts.
The Kendal Town Hall and South Lakeland House redevelopment will go ahead, which includes remodelling SLDC’s main South Lakeland House offices in Kendal so that around half the office space will be available to let to other organisations. This will include a ‘Mintworks 2’, a new enterprise centre for start-up businesses building on the success of the existing Mintworks hub on Highgate.
Other projects in the capital programme include £300,000 towards the Cross-a-Moor junction improvement on the A590 near Ulverston and further investment is planned to improve car parks and playgrounds, including £25,000 towards the extension and refurbishment to Rothay Park toilets in Ambleside through the Changing Places programme to provide disabled access facilities.
A sum of £500,000 will be allocated to ensure the continuation of the Locally Important Projects (LIPs) community grants for four years from 2021/22 and Locality budgets, which provide small but highly-valued grants toward local projects, will continue.
Additional investment has also been earmarked for environment and climate change projects to improve the environmental footprint of SLDC’s buildings, car parks and other facilities.
Councillor Andrew Jarvis, SLDC’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “This council is in robust financial health. We are maintaining services, delivering strategic projects and have a record of balancing our budget. We do not have to rely on reserves for everyday spending and can invest in improved services, make the council more efficient and support key projects.
“However, even though we remain a prudent and careful authority, we can’t ignore the significant uncertainty ahead. We remain in a good position to face this, but significant funding cuts would be a major challenge and we continue to work to find ways to minimise the impact of cuts on the residents of South Lakeland.”
Leader of SLDC, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “Our capital programme is ambitious but it is within our means and will deliver significant benefits for all our residents. We continue to perform well as a council and make significant progress meeting our performance targets, making sure we work together to make South Lakeland the best place to work, live and explore."
The SLDC element is only part of the final Council Tax bill received by residents. The overall bill also includes the demands from Cumbria County Council, Cumbria police and the local parish councils.
A Band D property owner in South Lakeland will typically pay a Council Tax bill of £1,944. That breaks down as £199 for SLDC, £1,312 for Cumbria County Council and £128 towards the county council’s adult social services. A further £265 goes to Cumbria police and an average £39 to town and parish councils.