Budget and council tax reduction approved

Published Tuesday 24 February 2015

Frontline Council services will be protected, with investment in local communities and priority areas, it has been agreed.

At a meeting of Full Council on 23 February 2015, Harborough District Council approved the budget for 2015/16 detailing spending plans of over £30 million. A five per cent reduction to the District Council’s share of council tax was also approved.

The budget focuses on investment in key priorities, despite one of the biggest reductions in annual Government grant in recent years.  

There will be investment in:  

  • Districtwide projects – with £300,000 to be allocated to community projects  
  • Small and medium sized business initiatives  totaling £250,000
  • Superfast broadband to improve internet speeds in rural areas with a further £250,000 being committed
  • Disabled Facility Grants for home adaptations
  • The creation of new business space – with the Harborough Innovation Centre full to capacity
  • ‘A rural district of culture’ which will develop events to promote tourism 

Councillors said, despite facing a indicative budget shortfall next year of between £1.2m and £1.6m, it was presenting a budget that provides for growth in priority areas whilst protecting frontline services as a result of careful financial planning and savings across the Council. 

They said that the budget was building on previous projects such as the redevelopment of The Symington Building and Harborough Market, among other services, which have created sources of revenue for the Council. As well as this, every team within the council has been rigorously challenged to make savings where possible – however small – without impacting the services they provide.

The Council’s success with the New Homes Bonus scheme, which has already seen communities with new housing benefit from funding, as well as the retention of business rates growth, have also resulted in opportunities for community investment. 

Cllr Blake Pain, leader of Harborough District Council said at the meeting: “We’ve yielded a return from our investments [in Council assets] and now it’s time to give something back. We will carry on delivering for Harborough district.”

Cllr Phil King, the Council’s portfolio holder for finance said: “The revised budget before us is the result of a great deal of hard work, undertaken by officers as well as members of this Executive and council. Whilst direct government funding has decreased by nearly 29 per cent, this council has been successful in delivering proportionate local growth to generate income. So whilst some councils are having to make significant reductions to balance the budget, our budget planning process and programme for delivering continuous improvements has enabled us to recommend over £1m of growth in key priorities. By building on the past we are now able to deliver in the future. We are committed to delivering for the whole of the Harborough district.”