Wychavon budget approved: Council tax rise, further savings and cash to boost social mobility to come - The Evesham Observer

Wychavon budget approved: Council tax rise, further savings and cash to boost social mobility to come

Evesham Editorial 7th Mar, 2017   0

A COUNCIL tax rise, savings of £280,000 and cash to boost social mobility have been given the green light after council chiefs approved Wychavon District Council’s budget for the coming year.

Council tax bills will rise by two per cent, adding just £2.35 a year to the average band D bill, with the rise generating an extra £114,000 for the council’s coffers following the vote last Wednesday (February 22).

As part of Wychavon’s cost saving drive due to Government funding coming to an end by 2021, further savings will be made this year.

This includes £25,000 from efficiency savings, £40,000 from joint-working with Malvern Hills District Council, £40,000 from a review of management structures and £100,000 from joint waste and street cleaning services.

And to prop up the budget £79,000 has been taken from the council’s reserves to plug the gap in the finances.

The budget also revealed how council chiefs will be using £230,000 from their New Homes Bonus pot of cash over the next three years to improve social mobility for residents in the district.

This will be done by rolling out a programme of physical activity, lifestyle advice, working with schools and skills development to raise aspirations of young people.

And for the first time since Wychavon sold their housing stock in the 1990s, the council is investigating the viability of building homes once again.

Coun Linda Robinson, Leader of Wychavon District Council, explained why the council is investing hundreds of thousands of pounds to boost social mobility.

“We have been shocked to learn that some parts of Wychavon are rated as the third worst area in England in the Social Mobility Index,” Coun Robinson said.

“The index identifies the differences between where children grow up and the chances they have of doing well at school, finding a good job and having a decent standard of living.

“Reducing pockets of deprivation and improving social mobility is one of my big aspirations and we’ve agreed to a three year programme in the most deprived wards in the district.”

In response, Liberal Democrat councillor for Pershore, Coun Charles Tucker, said: “My concern was the budget did not address the inadequacies in the planning department that have come to light in dealing with big developers, and which I believe have become very obvious with the Persimmon developments in Pershore and Droitwich.

“The Conservatives said I wanted to spend more money and increase the council tax beyond the two per cent they proposed.

“I specifically said I was not proposing this, but simply noted the money foregone would have funded two additional planning officers.

“In fact the council has a reserve of over £300,000 specifically for more planning officers – so they could use that with no impact on the council tax increase.”


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