Budget approved by full council on Thursday, February 22, 2013
A zero per cent Council Tax increase for the fourth year running and measures to boost the economy and protect vulnerable people are the hallmarks of North East Lincolnshire Council's 2013/14 budget, agreed by Full Council last night (Thursday February 22).
The authority's budget, which has seen an 8.3 per cent cut in central government funding from £95.62 million to £87.695 million for the year, was formally approved following a lengthy debate by members at the meeting held in Grimsby Town Hall.
In addition to the 0% Council Tax increase, it was agreed a Capital Programme over the next five years of £85m would be funded from the Council’s own resources.
And members also agreed a series of amendments to the budget which will see a raft of initiatives introduced to help residents, businesses and communities across North East Lincolnshire, as well as boosting the area's drive as a tourist destination.
* Deferring a planned increase in charges for meals on wheels for two years – £68,000;
* Deferring an increase in taxi licensing fees – £12,000; and deferring the introduction of new-style taxi plates – £5,000.
* Making further investment in promoting the area as a tourist destination, with £100,000 for events and £75,000 for marketing.
* Spending £30,000 on hosting the Britain In Bloom awards ceremony in Cleethorpes.
Council Leader Chris Shaw said the authority had been among the hardest hit councils in the UK in terms of funding cuts, but a successful track record in meeting financial challenges had enabled it to plan delivery of its services effectively and efficiently.
"These really are unprecedented times in terms of cuts we face, but we are fully committed to doing all we can for our communities, as well as businesses in the area,'' he explained.
"As such, we believe this is a fair budget, which both looks to help our residents by keeping Council Tax down, supports our frontline services and also looks to help the economy and job prospects for local people.''
Since the December announcement by the Department of Local Government of the settlement for local government, work carried out by Council officers has revealed an extra £8m has to be taken out of the Council's budget by 2015/16, meaning a total £58m has to be found in that time.
Councillor Shaw added: "We care about local communities and we will continue to strive to support local services in these enforced hard times; we will continue to work to use our reduced resources to best effect to deliver on our priorities of supporting vulnerable people and making North East Lincolnshire an attractive place for businesses.
“And we will continue to engage with our communities on how we go about tackling the challenges we face in terms of the future delivery of the large number of services we provide.
“The cut in grant is extremely unfair- local government is one of the most effective parts of the public sector and to attack it in this way makes absolutely no sense, particularly as more and more people are having to turn to us for help in these difficult economic times.’’
The Britain In Bloom event will be paid for by cutting ward funding in each of the 15 wards by £2,000. Ward funding will also be cut by a further £2,000 in each of the following two financial years, seeing it half from £12,000 this year to £6,000 in 2015/16. The other revisions will be funded by taking £589,000 out of the council’s reserves over the next three years.