East Cambs District Council is freezing council tax for sixth year in a row

'They're spending your money on free buffets and that's not right.' Why a Lib Dem councillor wants t

'They're spending your money on free buffets and that's not right.' Why a Lib Dem councillor wants to end free buffets ahead of full meetings of East Cambs Council. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

East Cambs District Council is to freeze council tax for the sixth year running and says it will give “early consideration” to future spending to ensure savings are continually made.

Councillors will also hear next week of the “quickening of the pace of commercialisation” and the ongoing review of all income generating opportunities “as these are potentially the areas that could generate the highest returns.”

Officers offer an optimistic note as they analyse past performance and future expectations noting, for example, there was an under spend of nearly £1.2m in 2017/18 and half that amount again is expected this year.

Finance chiefs point to other positives including an increase in the number of houses being built in the district giving the councilan additional £82,574 in income on March 31, 2019.

The council has also benefited to the tune of £1,317,939 thanks to being part of the Cambridgeshire Business Rate Deal, which was in place for three years up until March 2018.

“This work has led to further one-off and on-going savings being made; the current year end forecast under spends for 2018/19 is £433,500, which will be transferred to the surplus savings reserve.”

The savings come despite a drop in government funding – compared to a £659,999 provisional revenue support grant for 2017/18, the council will receive just £11,576 in 2019/20.

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The council will receive a £161,606 rural services delivery grant in 2019/20 (the same value as in 2018/19) and housing benefit administration grant of £171,429 (a reduction of £18,752 compared to 2018/19). It will also receive a council tax administration grant of £70,250 (an increase of £996 compared to 2018/19).

The report however states that there are “significant budget deficits remaining in subsequent years – after 2020/21 – which will need to be addressed”.

While there have been “no new fees or charges approved for 2019/20” the committee has considered “introducing new fees for housing offences, including civil penalties for rogue landlords”.

The report adds that the council is buying a new waste fleet and hiring it to its designated waste service, East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS), and that “the costs of the leisure centre are being met by the operator, the loan to East Cambs Trading Company will be repaid in full in March 2021, and the costs of the waste fleet will be passed onto ECSS.