Council sets budget for 2018/19
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council set its budget for 2018/2019 yesterday evening (Tuesday 20 February) at a Full Council meeting.
In recent years, the council’s revenue support grant funding from the Government has reduced from £1.0million in 2015/16 to zero in 2018/19. Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is one of few local authorities across the country to no longer receive this grant.
Despite the reduction in funding from central Government, in setting the budget councillors have ensured that the council tax for this borough remains the third lowest in Surrey.
This has been achieved in part by increased income generated from the council’s commercial activities, including from its new property trading company. The council has also taken measures to reduce homelessness in the borough, thereby significantly reducing our associated costs, and has invested in new technology to enhance our services to residents.
In setting the budget, councillors have agreed that the borough council’s element of council tax will rise by 2.98%, which equates to an additional £5.58 a year or around 11p a week at Band D and just £3.72 and 7p a week for those in the lowest rated Band A properties.
Council tax funds three bodies, with the smallest percentage going to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council – 77% goes to Surrey County Council, Surrey Police receive 13% and this council receives 10%.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chair of the Strategy & Resources Committee, in presenting the budget, emphasised the council’s innovation and efficiencies over the last year:
- further reducing the number of local homeless families by the acquisition of properties for temporary accommodation
- introducing the new weekly refuse collection service which has led to an increase in recycling levels and greater residents’ satisfaction
- establishing a property investment trading company and acquiring two commercial properties, generating an additional £805k income for the council
- improvements to the borough’s green spaces, including works to Rosebery Pond and path restoration on Epsom Common.
Councillor Kington also highlighted the new services and improvements to current activity that this budget would allow in the year ahead:
- extending the higher needs service to include day care for older and vulnerable adults; providing a stimulating environment for those with early onset dementia and other issues and respite for family carers
- enhancing the skatepark at Longrove Park with a ‘beginners’ feature as part of the council’s efforts to promote healthy exercise in the young
- taking forward a community safety agenda that will see the council increase enforcement actions against anti-social behaviours.
The councillor took time to stress that in this time of financial constraint, working closer with third parties was invaluable and noted in particular the work the Borough Council has undertaken in:
- supporting businesses to establish the Epsom business improvement district which will bring an addition £1.5 million of investment into Epsom town centre.
- working with a social housing provider in the development of 30 affordable homes at Hollymore Lane
- working with the Horton Chapel Arts and Heritage Society to ensure the successful development of Horton Chapel as a not-for-profit arts centre
Speaking after the Budget meeting Councillor Kington said:
“Epsom and Ewell Borough Council has worked with a steady reduction in Government grants and is now one of a very few councils nationally that receives no Revenue Support Grant at all. That is unfair and unreasonable.
“However, we have made huge efficiency savings, changed the way we deliver some services and sought new incomes streams so that, unlike many councils, we have not cut any services. I am proud of our financial record, and I am also proud of the council staff who, under challenging circumstances, continue to provide high quality services to our residents.”