Councillors are set to consider a series of financial reports about Burnley Council’s proposed budget for the coming year.
The reports will go to the council’s scrutiny committee on 11th February and Executive on 15th February for debate and then on to a meeting of the full council on 24th February for final debate which will then set the budget for 2021/22.
Among the proposals is an extra £50,000 for the streetscene unit to be spent on tackling environmental issues such as dog fouling and flytipping.
The papers also set out investment in major projects over the next five years and a broad approach to balancing the books.
The reports also set out details of other major investments over the coming year:
· Climate Change Emergency - The council is well all aware of the requirements on everyone to ensure that they contribute towards combating the climate crisis. As well as the existing initiatives that the council has introduced or will be introducing as part of this budget, a further £50,000 has been set aside towards any further projects
· Community Recovery Fund – £100,000 to continue to support the Community Recovery Plan. A key focus of the plan has been the development of the Burnley Together community hub which has been operating since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting the most vulnerable residents
· Business Hardship Fund – to create a fund of £500,000 which will be open to businesses in key sectors that either provide an important service to the borough or provide a significant economic/employment benefit and are facing significant and potentially longer-term financial difficulties due to Covid.
Council leader Councillor Mark Townsend said: “Burnley has consistently fared worse when it comes to spending power compared to other authorities over many years. We have faced far worse spending reductions than others. Even when spending power is increased by the Government, Burnley’s increase is far below the English average. For example, in 2021/22 the proposed increase in spending power for Burnley is 2.6% while the English average increase is 4.5%.
“We will continue to fight for more and fairer financial help from central Government for our borough.”
The national government has determined how far district councils such as Burnley can increase the level of council tax. The reports propose a budget that would see Burnley Council working to the limit set nationally, which would mean an increase in household council tax bills of 1.99 per cent. However any final decision on this would be made at the Full Council meeting to be held on 24 February 2021.
The report states that the approach is in line with that being taken by many other councils and means that Burnley Council’s share of the council tax bill for a Band D property would be £312.28 for the year – an increase of £6.09 from the current level.
The majority of the full council tax bill for a household is made up of payments to Lancashire County Council (to cover work such as education, social services and highways), the police, fire authority and – in areas with a town or parish council – a ‘precept’ to cover their running costs.
Councillor Sue Graham, the council’s executive member for resources and performance management, said: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been at the forefront of our minds when we’ve come to setting this year’s budget.
“It’s imperative that we plan not only for the coming 12 months and, we hope, start to make our way out of this crisis and back to normality. We also need to look further ahead and plan out a long-term strategy that creates a strong local economy and a bright future for all of residents.
“We always recognise the impact that council tax has on local residents and we will always take their ability to pay into consideration when setting council tax levels. This is even more important because of the impact Covid has had on people’s finances. Any final decision on the level of Council Tax will be made at Full Council on 24th February.
“We need to ensure that we can maintain essential services for our residents. We will also ensure there is help and support for those that need it, the most vulnerable members of our community. We will continue to work closely with partners in the Burnley Together community hub to provide immediate support for vulnerable residents while, at the same time, planning our way out of this pandemic.”
Coun. Graham added: “The extra money for streetscene work reflects the priority we put on work that impacts the day-to-day lives of local people. This investment will help tackle the issues that are most important to improving the quality of life for residents.
“There will also be further investment in supporting our local businesses through the current crisis and helping to pave the way to recovery once it is over.
“As always, we will continue to work to provide high class services to our residents.”