Corby Council has set a budget for 2018/19 that it says is ‘extremely positive’ in the current climate.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday (February 27), councillors backed a 2.7 per cent (£5 for Band D houses) rise, which it says will likely leave it with the second lowest district charge in the county.
Leader of Corby Council Cllr Tom Beattie said: “The 2018/19 budget is extremely positive for the council in the currently climate and continues to build on the success of our strong financial leadership.
“It is one of the most straightforward budgets that we have delivered in recent years and one where we are contributing to reserves and deciding over which growth proposals we should include rather than which services or posts we need to cut back on.
“This is largely due to a combination of factors.
“These included the difficult decisions that we have previously taken, our willingness to look at new ways of working, our pursuit of a growth agenda and more recently our commercial approach to investment properties.
“In the past year or so we have invested heavily in commercial properties and these ventures have generated over £1m a year of net surplus to the general fund.
“This is after allowing for an annual repayment of the borrowing.
“I recognise that this agenda is also widely supported by all members and so I would like to thank both officers and members in their approach to this which has enabled us to be a more outward-looking council.”
Cllr Beattie added that they are committed to growing and investing while protecting front-line services, as opposed to cutting them.
He said: “We have now had austerity for seven years and while continued central Government funding cuts and the impact of the recession have continued and will continue to place significant strain on local government finances, our commitment to growth and investment allows the budget for 2018/19 to protect front-line services, and allow a contribution to reserves.
“This is in stark contrast to an increasing number of councils up and down the country who are forced into having to cut services, utilise reserves and make significant job cuts in order to balance their books.
“We do, however, recognise that there will continue to be uncertainties as we move forward and as a result we have sought to increase in our reserves over the past few years.
“This is supported by the LGA and the council’s peer review and represents a further example of how the council has and is continuing to move forward.
“It is also becoming increasingly apparent that while the council has done everything asked of it by the government, including efficiency savings and growth both in terms of housing and attracting new businesses, the future for our finances continues to be uncertain.
“The only thing that we know for certain is that local government overall will continue to be subject to significant change and pressure moving forward.
“However, it will not be for two to three years until we know the full extent of changes to the fair funding review that the Government is currently undertaking.
“In short, we have done well so far but we know that there will be risks moving forward.
“As a result we feel that we have no choice but to try and protect ourselves from future government funding actions and this includes and increase in the council tax of £5 for a Band D property.
“While we recognise and accept the challenges that the council faces over the next few years, overall our budget for 2018/19 is another budget for service provision, investment, growth and opportunity.
“It’s a budget that builds on our past achievements and will continue to deliver even more in Corby in support of our aims and objectives.”