TAUNTON Deane Borough Council is proposing to continue its investment in boosting the local economy as part of its budget plans for the year ahead.
The council embarked on a major investment programme some three years ago, allocating £16.6m over five years towards its growth and development ambitions.
The investment is due to continue in the year ahead with money earmarked for the following schemes:
- Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation – The allocation towards the Flood Alleviation project has been increased to £5m in line with the Council’s commitment to flood relief, by reallocation from the Urban Extension project.
- Major Transport Schemes – overall allocation increased from £3.5m to £3.9m.
- Town Centre Regeneration – overall allocation increased from £2.5m to £3.05m to enable the delivery of major Town Centre schemes, such as Firepool and Coal Orchard.
- Employment sites, enterprise and innovation –overall allocation of £3.5m
The investment is continuing despite the council seeing its overall funding – Government grant, New Homes Bonus (NHB) and business rates income – all reducing. The Government Revenue Support Grant has been reduced by £365,000 (57%), NHB by £470,000 (12%) and retained business rates by £13,000 (0.4%).
“Thanks to prudent housekeeping in the past, we are still able to commit to our pledge to invest in our economy despite seeing such significant decreases in funding,” said Council Leader John Williams.
“We will be able to set a balanced budget in the coming year despite the challenges we face, without the need to cut services. We have delivered substantial savings through our partnership with West Somerset Council – £1.8m annually – and we will be able to increase this by a further £3.1m a year through changing the way we work and, if approved, creating a new, single council.”
The council’s Executive is, in principle, set to increase Council Tax by £5 (3.3%) a year – around 10 pence per week – for the average Band D property. This will set the annual tax rate at £154.62 – or £2.97 per week, comprising £152.88 for all Taunton Deane services and £1.74 for the Somerset Rivers Authority. The increase will raise an additional £207,000, which goes towards protecting vital services so valued by the community we serve.
Council tenants look set to see their rent fall by 1% – from an average £82.52 per week to £81.69 per week in 2018/19. Maintaining our existing housing stock of nearly 6,000 homes is important so investment continues in the housing capital programme with £8.973m budgeted for 2018/19.
Major Works include the following:
- Bathrooms: This is for the replacement of bathrooms as and when required.
- Heating Systems: The replacement and upgrade of boilers and heating systems.
- Fascia, Soffits and Rainwater Goods: This is for replacement where necessary.
- Fire Safety Works: This is to fund works identified in the TDBC action plan.
- Insulation: The upgrade of insulation, for example cavity wall and loft insulation in homes.
The budget for the Social Housing Development Fund is for new development and/or the redevelopment of housing. This budget represents an ongoing programme averaging 15 units a year. For 2018/19 this is increased to £2.03m.
The budget proposals will be considered by the Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee on 25 January, the Executive on 8 February and the final decisions will be made by Full Council on Thursday 22 February.
Taunton Deane’s share of the overall Council tax bill is about 10% of the total with the remainder going to fund Somerset County Council, Police and Fire services, and Town and Parish councils.