Conservatives announce Crawley Council Budget
Your Conservative Crawley Borough Council has published its budget plans for 2012/13. The budget includes a Council Tax Freeze for the second year running and continues the six-year track record of the lowest Council Tax rises in all of Sussex.
The proposals go to Cabinet on 8th February and Full Council on 29th February.
The plans include a return to a balanced budget, where income matches spending with no direct draw on reserves. This means that the Council can use more of its capital (savings) for new projects instead of relying on interest to fund our day-to-day services.
Over the period 2011 to 2015, the Council has plans for spending a massive £63 million of capital. Few, if any, district councils could come close to this level of spending. Major projects completed and on-going include:
- Residential Environmental Improvement Schemes. These projects are always popular, improving parking arrangements and the appearance of our neighbourhoods.
- The comprehensive improvement of Ifield Milllpond, with the removal of much accumulated silt. This will restore the area to its full glory.
- A new "life centre" at Dobbins Place in Ifield West, acting as a quality community hub.
- The restoration of Worth Park Gardens, Pound Hill.
- Disabled Facility Grants
- The Decent Homes programme for Crawley's Council Houses
- Investment in The Hawth and K2 Crawley
- Major improvements to the Council's neighbourhood parades
- New investment to improve Broadfield Barton
- The greatly enhanced Maidenbower Pavilion
There are two growth areas for general service spending - £40,000 for flood prevention and £50,000 for improved streetscene maintenance.
Thanks to prudent financial management, the Council is able to limit tenant rent increases to an average of 5.6% as compared to the government guidance figure of 8.35%.
As part of the budget, the Council plans to exit the national HRA (Housing Revenue Account) subsidy system, which sees £16 million of tenants' rents handed over the government every year. To exit the system, it is planned to take out a series of loans, amounting to £262 million, at very competitive interest rates. Taxpayers and tenants will be much better off as the contribution to government will cease.
By paying interest-only on the first 10 years of the loan, it will be possible to generate surpluses that can be used to build new housing or alter the tenure mix of new developments away from shared ownership towards social rented, where the housing need is greatest.