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Councillors to Approve Budget

Published Thursday 20 August, 2020
Last updated on Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Councillors are being asked to approve an ambitious budget for the upcoming year at the council meeting next week (26 Feb).

This sets out how the council will spend money in the financial year 2020/21 and includes commitments to invest in the council’s new priorities.

Once again, the backdrop is very challenging, with the council seeing its Government funding reduced and major cost pressures in areas such as homelessness.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, said:

“We are proud to present a prudent and realistic budget that recognises the constraints imposed by the current economic environment.

“We don’t know what Government funding will be made available after 2020/21, so we must be mindful of this when setting our future budgeting.

“Previous budgets have led to too many variances throughout the year that has meant services such as homelessness have suffered, so we have invested over £400,000 into this service.

“The new budget also proposes investing an additional £70,000 into staff to tackle homelessness across the borough, £90,000 for free parking at Swallows Leisure Centre and the Sheppey Leisure Complex to encourage people to lead healthy lifestyles, and £40,000 in a new health promotion post.

“Our reserves have grown over the years, and whilst we need to keep an appropriate amount in hand, this is residents’ money, and we believe it should be invested to benefit them.

“This budget proposes reallocating robust reserves to a wide range of community projects and environmental improvements that will help improve the borough for everyone.

“This includes park improvements, recycling bins for bathing beaches, playground equipment, fuel and poverty outreach work, upgrading electric vehicle charging points, Faversham Pool, St Ann’s Footbridge, Harty Ferry Artesian Well, Sheppey Hall, Newington Recreation Ground play area and Painters Forstal Community Hall.

“We made £1 million available this year for these special projects around the borough and we plan to continue this and dedicate the same again this year for projects that are important to the community.

“We believe that with this budget we can deliver good services to local people, improve facilities, and care for the environment.”

There will be significant investment through the capital programme to improve local services such as new public toilets in Milton Regis, Milton Creek Country Park, Barton Point and Minster Lees totalling over £400,000.

As part of the council’s commitment to improve air quality and address the climate emergency, the council is committing £50,000 over two years to fund the climate change strategy. The council will also replace its main fleet of vehicles with electric or hybrid vehicles to help reduce its own emissions.

The budget also outlines how the council will directly invest into affordable housing within the borough.

Council tax is also proposed to rise by £4.95 a year - less than 10p a week - for Band D properties, bringing the annual cost for our services to £179.37.

Most properties in Swale are on lower bands C and Bs, so will be paying even less for all the services the borough council provides.

The final council tax bill also includes charges Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and town and parish councils.

The full report on the budget can be read here.