Borough Council Delivers a Balanced Budget
15 February 2022
West Devon Borough Council supports vulnerable people within the community due to its careful financial management, despite ongoing national financial challenges.
On Tuesday 15 February, Full Council heard proposals for how it would set a balanced budget for 2022/2023.
Councillors agreed to an increase in Council Tax of £5 per year, which is less than 10p per week for an average Band D property. This means those residents would pay £246.63 per year to the Borough Council for all of their Council's services. This is a 2.07% increase, far lower than inflation, which is currently running above 5.4%.
Due to very careful financial management and tough decisions, West Devon Borough Council is managing well with the current financial challenges. This is despite the Covid pandemic and other issues that have caused significant financial strain for councils throughout the country.
This Budget ensures that West Devon Borough Council will be able to provide essential services such as waste and recycling collections, and continue to fund the necessary support to those most at need within the Borough. In the past year alone, the Council has looked after its residents in the following ways.
£33m of Covid Business Grants have been issued to local West Devon businesses during the pandemic in the last year. This is in addition to 434 residents who have received Test and Trace funding of £217,000.
The work of a Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker, shared with South Hams District Council, continues as a permanent post. The member of staff supports vulnerable homeless people who sleep rough, or are in danger of not having a place to stay.
In the last year, nearly £3.9m has also been paid out to those Borough residents who need help to pay their Council Tax bills through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, with just under £2m of this amount paid to working age claimants.
For those struggling to pay rent, or who are already in arrears, additional support in Discretionary Housing Payments of an extra £86,635 has been paid, with £61,363 more to be allocated by the end of March.
To help with sudden unexpected costs that can create challenges for the Borough's residents who are experiencing financial hardship, the Council has provided £31,000 through the Household Support Fund. This provides rapid short-term financial support to meet immediate needs and helps those who are struggling to afford food, energy and water bills, and other related essentials this winter.
A spokesperson for West Devon Borough Council, said: "The budget has been carefully considered. We know that any Council Tax increase is difficult; however, an increase of 2.07% is well below current inflation rates and amounts to less than 10 pence extra per week for a Band D property. Setting the budget will help the Borough Council to deliver key services to those who are in the greatest need.
"This will provide funding to resource services such as housing, benefits or fuel poverty schemes. Some of our residents are facing significant hardships, and the money we collect, allows us to provide them with appropriate assistance and support. As well, of course, as funding our core services, such as Planning, Environmental Health and waste and recycling collections.
"We stand ready to offer our help to those who most need it and we're pleased that we are able to do that with this balanced budget."
It is often wrongly assumed that all the Council Tax money collected goes to the Borough Council; however, that is not the case.
As a Borough Council, it is their responsibility to collect Council Tax on behalf of the County Council, Town and Parish Councils, Fire and Police. However, the Council only receives 11p in every £1 collected (11%) to pay for its services.
To find out more about the report presented at the Full Council meeting, go to: www.westdevon.gov.uk/FullCouncil
West Devon Borough Council fully recognises the economic problems that many households will be experiencing as a result in the rise in the cost of living, and they understand that some residents will find it difficult to meet Council Tax payments.
That is why they are committed to doing everything they can to support residents. They are advising residents to find out what support is on offer if they are having difficulties with payments.
If you are worried about paying for your Council Tax, you can find out more information here: www.westdevon.gov.uk/article/5438/Worried-about-Paying
Find out about reductions (discounts and exemptions) here: www.westdevon.gov.uk/council-tax-discount
If you are on a low income, you can find out more here: www.westdevon.gov.uk/article/6636/Low-Income-Council-Tax-Reduction