Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) has approved the budget for the next four years.
The meeting outlined a optimistic outlook for the future of the council, albeit acknowledging Brexit, the unitary debate on whether BCC and AVDC will converge, and other factors such as the reduction of funding grants from central government being flagged as potential risks.
The council has stated: “The single biggest issue that is likely to remain is the ongoing and severe impact of the reductions in government grant and how public sector austerity continues to impact upon local government.”
The council is set to receive £6.3 million of the New Homes Bonus in 2018/19. The New Homes Bonus Scheme provides cash for areas that allow new homes to be built in their area. This is the largest award for any district in England, reflecting the massive housing growth we have seen across the Vale recently.
In line with the national government, AVDC are set to increase council tax “as local government continues to bear the brunt” of continued government savings. “The threat to local government funding started back in 2010 and, unlike many councils, we predicted that it would only get worse.
“Our response was to make difficult changes, as well as brave decisions, to protect and improve core services for our residents. It’s been a long journey and one which continues, but that is why we’re in such a good position today,” said Cllr Howard Mordue.
He revealed in the meeting that the council had made £2 million worth of redundancies and settlements since the restructure began. Against the backdrop of austerity in the UK, since 2010 AVDC has lost £9 million, the equivalent of 75% of its central government funding and more than a third of its original annual budget.
This latest budget includes a council tax increase, taking the amount paid per week by the average Band D household, from £2.77 to £2.87 – an annual rise of £5.
AVDC Leader, Cllr Neil Blake, said: “We’ve created a commercial culture here which has resulted in all staff working in a more efficient and customer-focused way. Like any business, some new ideas have thrived and others have done less well but even there our learnings have huge value.
“Everyone’s had to work incredibly hard, but if we weren’t trying to do things differently, I’m 100% certain we would not be such an enviable position.” said AVDC Leader, Cllr Neil Blake.