Published Thursday, 9th November 2023
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has now published its draft budget proposals for the financial year 2024/25. The draft budget will be considered by the Executive on Thursday 16 November 2023.
Following approval and incorporating any agreed revisions from Executive councillors, we will then consult with residents, businesses and partners on the recommendations in the report, ahead of the final budget decision at a meeting of the Full Council in February 2024.
A sustainable financial position but no room for complacency
The financial challenges faced by local government have been in the news in recent months.
Like all local authorities, we face continuing and new financial pressures, due to a combination of factors. These include no direct central government funding since 2017, and the impact of ongoing high levels of cost inflation.
Cllr Richard Biggs, Leader of The Council, says:
“The Council has a strong track record of good financial management. This means that we do not face the immediate financial pressures that some other local authorities do.
“However, we know that we cannot be complacent. We need to reduce our costs and increase the amount of income we generate so we can continue to deliver important services for our residents and businesses.
“This is why we are supporting the Local Government Association campaign, Save Local Services, and calling on Government to provide adequate, longer term funding for local government to ensure that the sector can continue to provide essential services in the coming years.”
The published draft budget is based on a full assessment of current council budgets and future financial opportunities and pressures. It also reflects the Council’s commitment to its financial sustainability programme, looking at four key areas: income generation, use of assets, prioritisation of resources and achieving value for money.
Proposals for our revenue budget (which covers the day-to-day costs of service delivery) 2024/25 include:
- Encouraging wider use of our community centres to generate more income including private hire
- Saving money through the use of solar compacting litter bins which need emptying less frequently
- Building assumptions about rental income from new commercial properties (including The Rise, Redhill) into our budget
- Making savings from ‘rightsizing’ existing budgets in some service areas
- Increasing some locally set fees and charges, so we can continue to cover the costs of service delivery
- Using other sources of income to pay for some activities, including from external partners and funds held in reserve
- Creating staff posts to deliver new statutory responsibilities in our Planning and Environmental Health teams, and to expand our Sustainability and IT services
- Upgrading our fleet of street sweepers and using more environmentally friendly fuels in vehicles where we can
- Increasing overall funding available for salaries to cover contractual and cost of living wage increases for staff
The budget also includes proposals for increased spending on our buildings over the next five years to make them more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions.
Overall, the draft budget includes service revenue budget growth proposals totalling £0.943 million, income and savings of £1.719 million and additional fees and charges of £0.540 million. We anticipate having to draw on our earmarked financial revenue reserves to mitigate areas of financial risk to the Council, such as housing benefit pressures, potentially up to the value of £0.964 million.
Council Tax is an important source of income for the Council and funds approximately 20 per cent of our annual budget. Our draft budget is based on the assumption that Reigate & Banstead’s 11 pence in the pound share of the Council Tax Bill will increase by an average of £7.47 per year for Band D households. The remainder of the Council Tax we collect is split between Surrey County Council and Surrey Police.
Once the initial proposals have been discussed and agreed at the Executive Meeting on 16 November, an eight-week public consultation will take place, running from 20 November to 15 January 2024. Full details about how residents, businesses and partners can share their views will be made available soon.
The final budget and Council Tax for 2024/25 will be reported to the Full Council in February next year.