At last weeks Full Council EHDC agreed to keep Council Tax at the same level as last year .
For 6 years now we have either cut or kept Council tax at the same level. Over the same period that is the equivalent of a £40 saving for every household. While we aren’t the biggest share of the Council Tax bill, for many families £40 a year is still an important sum.
This though is not the biggest story. We have identified a further saving of £355,000 which, together with some reserves, we have used to form a £1,500,000 fund to create two post. Firstly a £1m fund for Community grants and the Second a £500,000 fund for welfare projects.
In comparison last year our communities fund was just £50,000 and we had no Welfare fund. The £1.5m is also a significant sum when you consider our annual operational budget is just £11m.
These funds which will be spread through the District with grant streams lasting up to 3 years will make a significant difference to charities and organisations supporting the most vulnerable people. Organisations wishing to apply should be aware that this is not just a cashpoint for free money – we will be looking for innovative ways to multiply the cash value with volunteer support, match funding and deliverable targets to make sure that between us and the other parties we deliver significant sums to the most needy.
As the Finance Portfolio Holder I am proud to be part of an administration that is able to deliver a significant strategy such as this. (In comparison a 3% increase in Council Tax would generate just £195,000). We are bucking the national trend and plan to carry on doing so.
In comparison HCC increased their share of Council Tax by 2.99% and the Police and Crime Commissioner 13.5% for a Band D house or £24 per home per year. The Police increase is to fund a larger number of police officers which is, in my opinion, a very good reason and I support the increase.