Forest of Dean District Council’s Cabinet agree proposed budget for 2021/22
Last week, the Forest of Dean District Council Cabinet agreed the proposed budget and financial strategy for the 2021/22 financial year which will go to full council on 18 February for consideration.
Despite the difficult year and additional pressures from the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time since its implementation, Forest of Dean District Council will not only balance the budget but has been able to put funds back into the reserves.
This comes under the context of decreasing funding from Central Government meaning councils across the country have far less funding than in previous years to deliver local services such as waste collections, leisure facilities, planning, housing and many others.
There has also been an announcement of additional COVID-19 funding in 2021/22. From this the Council will receive £435,160 for the first three months of 2021/22. This has been set aside to cover the additional homelessness and leisure costs.
There have been no announcements around this funding continuing after 21 June. However, the likelihood is that income from sales, fees and charges will still be impacted and additional costs will continue to be incurred, especially in order to ensure leisure centres stay available and that any homelessness needs are met.
To ensure a balanced budget, there is a proposed rise in council tax of 10p per week on a Band D property, or £5 per annum. The Cabinet considers this an increase which is sustainable, while trying to decrease the risk of service cuts and higher tax increases in future.
To continue the upward trend of a positive budget, the Council is looking to commit to becoming more enterprising and commercially focused in regenerating the Forest, with projects such as Foxglove Gardens and Destination Lydney Harbour set to improve the local economy.
Cllr Richard Leppington, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “I am very pleased to be putting forward this budget to council that is not only balanced, but has allowed us to put some money aside for future. It is a real triumph during a very difficult time for local councils.”
“I would like to thank all those councillors and members of the public that took part in our consultation and focus groups. The feedback was invaluable and helped us shape our proposals.
“Whilst we're going in the right direction there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding future funding. Further difficult decisions need to be made given the uncertainty of future government funding and the financial ramifications of COVID-19. We will do our best to ensure the Forest of Dean gets the funding it needs.”
The budget will be considered by full Council on 18 February for final approval.