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Date posted: 21 February 2024

Council sets balanced budget that protects frontline services

Waverley Borough Council has agreed a balanced budget for 2024/25, but financial pressures mean tough financial decisions need to be made in both the short and medium term.

At the council budget meeting on Tuesday 20 February, members were presented with financial forecasts that show the council is facing a £15.2 million budget gap over the next four years.

Rising costs, increased demand for council services and sustained reductions in funding by Central Government mean the council must continue to increase income and make cost savings to balance the books.

Waverley Borough Council is taking action to ensure sufficient funding is in place to protect and enhance frontline services in 2024/25 by closely controlling costs, collaborating with neighbouring Guildford Borough Council, carefully managing income generating assets and further exploring commercial opportunities.

Although Waverley collects Council Tax on behalf of Surrey Police and all the other councils in the borough, it only retains 9% of the total bill. To help offset the rising cost of providing council services, the Waverley Borough element of Council Tax will increase by 2.99%, which is roughly an extra 12p per week for a Band D property.

The council froze car park fees in 2021 to support high street shops and to encourage people to visit local towns after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, rising financial pressures mean they must now increase in line with inflation over the past three years.

Parking charges remain flexible and will reflect the demand for parking spaces in different areas of the borough. The council’s parking strategy will continue to encourage a regular turnover of parking spaces, so people are able to find a convenient place to park and can continue to support local shops. 

The income generated through car parks is used to support their management and maintenance, but it is also essential to help fund the council’s environmental services like refuse and recycling collections, street cleaning and the borough’s wonderful parks and open spaces.

Councillor Mark Merryweather, Waverley Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Finance, Assets and Property said:

“Central Government has told us to expect no grant support or business rate income by 2028/29.

“To make matters worse, the Government limits our ability to raise replacement funds from other sources, and actually takes £28 million in Business Rates out of our borough every year.

“With costs rising and demand for council services increasing, we have limited options available to us. Increases to Council Tax and other charges are essential if we are to continue providing the high-quality services our residents expect and deserve. 

“People across the UK are suffering because real terms funding for the local services on which they rely can’t keep up with the rising costs of providing them. In Waverley, we can maintain the status quo in the short-term but this cannot go on forever and we need a drastic rethink on how local government can be fairly funded in the future.

“Something has to change, and that’s why we are continuing to call for a long-term financial settlement from the Government that gives us greater financial security and allows us to properly invest in our services and the future of our communities.”


Categories: Council News

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