Published: Wed 27 February, 2019
North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) will invest millions in leisure development across the district in the coming year, run a recycling container pilot and invest money in town centres.
At its budget setting meeting on Tuesday 26 February, councillors also agreed to freeze the NWLDC portion of the council tax bill for the tenth year running.
Despite its grant from central Government reducing to zero this year, good financial planning and management has meant NWLDC can once again freeze its portion of the council tax bill, whilst also investing in projects across the district.
A self-sufficiency reserve was set up last year to help the council prepare for these Government funding changes.
Investment in leisure across the district
In 2019/20, the council will invest the first £9 million (of £23 million) into the new Coalville Leisure Centre, which is due to be built on land off the A511, opening in summer 2021. It will also fund £1.2 million of improvements to Ashby Leisure Centre and Lido and a further £900,000 of improvements at leisure facilities in Ibstock, Measham and Castle Donington.
Improving town centres and maximising the benefits of HS2
As well as this investment in leisure, the council has pledged £450,000 to support two community bids to improve local town centres.
The council also allocated £100,000 each year for the next three years to make sure the benefits of HS2 are maximised whilst the impact is minimised. This money will be used to employ community engagement officers working across the county, as well as rail specialists and technical expertise.
Recycling container pilot
As part of its Recycle more… campaign, which will begin in the summer, a £10,000 pilot of alternative recycling containers will see how technology may be able to improve the district’s recycling rates.
Government’s business rates pilot leads to investment into homelessness, improving online services and investment in roads
Leicestershire has been chosen as a pilot area for the Government’s proposed business rate retention scheme. This means local authorities in Leicestershire will keep 75% of all business rates collected and spend this money locally, rather than paying this back to central Government.
It is estimated that around £14 million additional income will be raised through this pilot scheme, which will be divided between the local authorities in the county and include:
- Developing online and re-designing services – to improve efficiency and free up money to be spent on front line services
- Exploring how to reduce the growing cost of homelessness and expanding work to tackle fraud
- Boosting new jobs and the economy by contributing to proposals for new road infrastructure and improvements to the city and town centres
Reducing council house rents, whilst building and investing in council homes
In its role as landlord to more than 4,400 holseholds, NWLDC has agreed to reduce council house rents by 1% in line with the final year of the Government’s 4 year rent reduction policy.
The council will continue to build and acquire new houses from developers, which has so far seen almost 70 new council homes built and taken into the council ownership in Coalville, Ashby and Measham.
The authority will also invest £7.6 million into maintaining and improving its 4,400 council houses, including keeping homes at the decent homes standard.
Councillor Nick Rushton, Corporate Portfolio Holder for NWLDC, said: “Whilst NWLDC has not yet faced the budget pressures seen in local authorities elsewhere, we have now seen our Government grant reduced to nothing and we will have future financial challenges to overcome.
“To combat this we’re thinking cleverly about the services we provide, driving efficiency and looking at ways we can improve our income figures more locally.
“We will continue our work to maximise income through business rates, planning fees and New Homes Bonus to ensure we can continue to invest in valuable public services whilst whilst maintaining our freeze on council tax and maintaining a good financial position.”
NWLDC manages two budgets:
The General Fund includes spending and income from a range of services including refuse collection, leisure facilities, environmental protection and planning services. It is also partially funded by council tax income, business rates and New Homes Bonus, which is paid to councils by Government for each home that is brought into use in the district.
The Housing Revenue Account is funded entirely by council home rents and is spent only on council housing.