Modest East Lindsey council tax rise will leave ‘tough decisions’ over service cuts in 2014, senior figure warns

A senior East Lindsey District Council figure has warned that this year’s modest council tax rise will mean there will be ‘tough decisions’ over what services the council can ‘afford to provide’ when 2014’s budget is drawn up next year.

The district council approved its latest budget for the 2013/14 financial year at a meeting last night.

Tax will rise on average by seven pence per week per household.

Council figures claim the small increase and greater efficiencies have ‘protected’ core services in the district for the coming year - despite £1.6million in budget savings being made.

But portfolio holder for finance, Coun John Upsall, has warned that this year’s budget will mean ‘touch decisions’ will be needed when the 2014/15 budget is drawn up in 12 months’ time.

He said: “Although a balanced budget has been agreed by council, which protects front line services for the forthcoming year, the following year’s budget will be tough and councillors will need to take some difficult decisions in relation to the services the council can afford to provide.”

Despite the increase in Council Tax, the charge levied by East Lindsey District Council remains the lowest in Lincolnshire and one of the lowest in the country at £1.75 per week for homes in Band A.

For 2014/15, the Council needs to find a further £2m in savings due to a further 13 per cent reduction in Government funding and inflationary costs.

The council claism that projects like the formation of Compass Point Business Services, the shared services company jointly owned by East Lindsey and South Holland District Councils, has been instrumental in enabling the local authority to protect services so far.

Coun Upsall, continued: “In 2014/15 the Council needs to find a further £2m to balance its books.

“In doing all it can to protect services, the council will leave no stone left unturned in identifying opportunities to deliver savings through new and more efficient ways of working.

“Although the revenue budget is extremely tight, good financial management means the council can continue with a number of important investments from its reserves and capital funds over the coming years to improve the infrastructure of the local area and support the economy.”

Planned investments this year include £2.5m into new housing schemes, •£300k into flood relief schemes in communities and £3.2m to provide Disabled Facility Grants to help people continue living in their homes.

There will also be a £500k investment in the council’s public toilet improvement programme, £1.5m for Rural Development Grants to encourage economic growth, £1m to a countywide broadband project that will support economic growth and £1m has been put aside to support the Environment Agency in developing flood alleviation schemes in Horncastle and Louth.