Council agrees budget for local investment, more savings and service improvements
Last night (26 February) the Council approved next year's budget and other financial plans.
Lead Councillor for Finance, Cllr Nigel Manning says: "Our effective financial management, planning ahead and commercial approach to investing in our own borough enables us to provide the wide range of vital services and opportunities that our residents and businesses need to flourish.
"We start from a strong financial position, which also helps the Council address future funding challenges. General grant funding for the Council stopped two years ago and since 2013 we have received nearly £4 million less in overall central government funding support.
"Our continued successful approach and financial strength help us to manage the impact of reduced funding and the predicted budget shortfall of £10 million in the next four years, without having to significantly increase our share of council tax.
"There are further challenges ahead and we are also lobbying the government to try to improve funding. As this budget shows, we will continue to prioritise our essential services and enable borough-wide improvements that benefit local people and support our economy."
Investing £86 million through our capital programme in 2019-20 and £375 million over the next four years - along with securing £28 million of inward investment
This programme includes strategic projects in our Corporate Plan and projects emerging from the new Local Plan.
We have also secured £28 million of inward investment from external agencies, such as EM3 LEP and Homes England, to help deliver the ambitions of the Local Plan, the supporting infrastructure delivery plan, and the town centre regeneration strategy.
For 2019-20 we have allocated funding to the following schemes:
sustainable movement corridor
A331 / A31 junction improvements
Guildford town centre transport improvements (Scheme LRN1 in the local plan infrastructure delivery plan)
Walnut Bridge Replacement (part of the above town centre transport improvements scheme LRN1 in the local plan infrastructure delivery plan)
Slyfield internal estate road
Guildford Park car park redevelopment
Middleton Industrial estate redevelopment
continue with the crematorium rebuild project.
Second lowest council tax in Surrey in 2018-19 - with an increase of 9.6p per week agreed for 2019-20
We keep less than 10% of the council tax that we collect, with an increase of £5 per year (3%) in our proportion of the bill in 2019-20.
We will continue to build on the £11 million of savings made in the last five years and with our plans to transform our services to make them more efficient and cost effective.
Focused savings, local investment and increased efficiency help us to provide our services in the most effective way
These services include:
caring for communities, the homeless and providing transport, meals, activities and support for older and vulnerable people
collecting recycling, rubbish and garden waste
safeguarding and showcasing our heritage and local attractions
making sure our beautiful parks and countryside can be enjoyed by everyone
looking after public health and making sure our taxis and food outlets are safe
enabling a variety of sports, leisure and entertainment opportunities for all ages and abilities
supporting and developing our local economy and encouraging tourism.
Providing and building a mix of homes to buy and rent at market and affordable prices
We own, manage and let a wide range of 5,200 homes at social housing rents and we are reducing these rents for the fourth year in a row, by 1% in 2019-20, helping those on low incomes. At the same time we will spend £5.1 million maintaining and improving our tenants' homes.
We are investing £74 million in building a mix of new homes for sale or affordable rent across our borough in the next four years.
We are already building on a number of sites - including:
Guildford Park Road on previous open-air car park site (160 homes, 64 for affordable rent)
Apple Tree pub site in Park Barn (18 homes, all for affordable rent with nine fully wheelchair accessible)
Ladymead site near the new Fire Station (12 homes, all for affordable rent)
other smaller scale previously-developed sites (21 homes across five sites, all for affordable rent).
Cllr Philip Brooker, Lead Councillor for Housing and Development Management says: "By carefully managing our housing stock and finances, we are now in a strong position to provide and build a mix of homes to meet the different needs across our communities. We believe that every person matters and we continue to invest in providing affordable social housing.
"We are also increasing the homes provided by North Downs Housing, the Council-owned market housing landlord company. The company is intending to build new homes to complement the properties it is acquiring to let, all with a focus on keeping homes to rent available to those struggling to own a home."
To find out more about the Council meeting or to watch the debate via our webcasting please see our Councillors and Decision Making page.
Published on Wednesday 27 February.