East Cambs again freezes Council Tax, manages to put some cash aside for a rainy day and under spends by £437,00 - how good is that?

A £20-a-week increase to universal credit, brought in to help people at the start of the Covid pandemic, has been withdrawn.

A £20-a-week increase to universal credit, brought in to help people at the start of the Covid pandemic, has been withdrawn. - Credit: Archant

East Cambridgeshire District Council is again to freeze its Council Tax and announced its ambition to tackle “budget challenges” by a four pronged approach to reign in spending and to expand its commercial arm.

In the medium to long term the council says its strategy “is to focus on the commercialisation agenda, rationalisation of support services, channel shift in the delivery of services and the use of reserves to fund initiatives with revenue benefits”.

Throughout the past year the council had put aside £600,000 into reserves and still managed to provide an end of year under spend of £437,000.

A report to councillors explains changes to business rates and Government support and says the next two years are covered but “significant budget deficits remain in subsequent years”.

Assumptions built into the budget for 20917/18 include:

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•Staff pay rises of 1 per cent

•No increase in pension costs for 2017/18

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•A cautious approach to inflation

•No changes to Housing Benefit

•Operations by the council’s commercial arm not impacting on 2017/18 forecasts

•A revenue cost neutral affect of the leisure centre in Downham Road

The report notes that as part of the pre-construction works for the leisure centre, additional costs were identified amounting to £505,000.

“However other budgets have been reviewed as part of the value management work to drive out savings, resulting in the total net additional cost of the build being limited to £220, 000,” says the report.

Community Infrastructure Levies (CIL) is also being used to fund the additional spend.

The council has also agreed to use its own reserves to lend money for the leisure centre and the trading arm in preference to looking for external loans.

Included in a £1.046 million capital programme are further works to Ely County Park.

Council Tax in East Cambs will therefore be frozen at £142.14 for a Band D property

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