The budget will now be presented for formal approval at Braintree District Council’s Full Council later this month
Braintree District Council’s Cabinet has decided to freeze its share of council tax for the year 2021/22 in recognition of the financial challenges some residents are experiencing due to the Coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic.
Last night (Monday, February 8th) Cabinet considered a range of options in regard to council tax and decided to set a zero council tax increase for 2021/22. The budget will be presented for formal approval at Braintree District Council’s Full Council meeting on Monday 22 February.
Cllr Graham Butland, Council Leader, said: “We recognise this has been a particularly difficult time and we want to support our residents as much as we can. For many, this year has been as much about a decline in financial circumstances as much as health. We cannot in all good conscience add to that burden this year.
“Providing help through the pandemic while also fulfilling a legal duty to set a balanced budget and provide essential services remains extremely challenging. Because of prudent financial management in previous years we have been able to explore options which will mean we will not increase our share of the council tax this year. Unfortunately it isn’t something we can do every year but it will mean that during this coming year residents will not have to find extra money.”
Cllr David Bebb, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, said: “Years of sound financial management has enabled us to do this. Our budget this year as a whole can be summed up as one that puts the economic, environment and supporting residents at its heart. We are still able to invest in what matters. Residents may still see their overall bill increase depending on decisions taken by the other authorities, but the portion of your council tax that Braintree District Council requires will be frozen and residents will not have to find extra money for our services.”
Half a million pounds will be earmarked for future climate change initiatives including increasing the number of electric charging points, creating a community tree and bulb planting scheme and investing in cycling as a sustainable method of transport. The investment underpins actions identified through the council’s draft Climate Change Strategy. The strategy is being worked on by working groups across the district representing businesses, residents and community organisations. The strategy will be published later this year.
Car parking charges will remain frozen in 2021/22. Freezing parking charges at their current price gives residents the benefit of parking with no increase so they can get back to the district’s shops and services as soon as COVID‑19 allows.
The council has also set aside money for its Exceptional Hardship Fund which can provide short-term assistance to families facing exceptional financial difficulties. The council has also set aside money to help prevent homelessness.
Money is also allocated for disabled facility grants which help vulnerable people make changes to their homes so they can remain independent, play area refurbishments and proposals for Witham and Halstead town centres public realm improvements. More funding is proposed to be allocated to the Braintree District Councillors’ Community Grant Scheme which will provide additional support for local projects and initiatives.
- The agenda and papers for Cabinet can be found here.