Basingstoke and Deane named country's most financially stable council

Basingstoke Gazette: Cllr John Izett Cllr John Izett

BASINGSTOKE and Deane is the most financially resilient council in the country, according to a national survey.

The Local Government Association’s Future Funding Outlook analysed the financial position of councils across the country – and the borough council was top in the country for how well councils are placed to withstand financial pressures up to 2019.

Councillor John Izett, cabinet member for property, finance and commissioning, said: “It is good news that the financial resilience of the council has been recognised.

“This is the result of careful management of our finances. We are not in the position of other councils, which are having to look at cutting back services.”

He added: “It is important that this council uses its financial resources for the good of the borough, protecting frontline services that make a difference to the day-to-day lives of our residents.

“We also need to be creative in using our financial muscle to support our substantial regeneration programme, which will deliver new homes, offices and amenities to the borough.”

The news comes as the borough council asks residents for views on the council’s latest budget plans which include a fourth council tax freeze for the borough. In addition, a council tax freeze is also being proposed from April 2015.

The council has drawn up its financial plans for the next three years ahead of setting its budget in February.

The council’s budget proposals include additional funding in 2014-15 for priority activities and services the community has identified as being important, according to the Conservative-run council, despite reductions in Government funding, investment interest and rental from council-owned property.

The budget will also see ongoing funding for new housing welfare support and advice, meals-on-wheels service and Basingstoke Festival in 2014.

More than £4million will be given to schemes in the borough, including £642,000 for disabled facility grants, £275,000 for parking and access improvements, £100,000 for play areas, and £100,000 for local environmental schemes in residential areas.

Residents can give their views on the borough council’s budget plans by filling in the feedback form in the council’s newsletter, Basingstoke and Deane Today, which is being delivered to all homes in the borough, or by going online at basingstoke.gov.uk/go/budget. The deadline for comments is December 20.

The council will still have to make savings to balance budgets in future years and has already undergone an extensive review of all services to find efficiency and procurement savings and ways to maximise income.

These initiatives have already led to savings of over £9 million over the last six years and the council is about to carry out further reviews to look at more shared services and other ways of delivering services.

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