Wyre Forest District Council’s ambitious budget for economic and housing growth has been approved.  Members formally adopted budget proposals for 2017-18 at their full council meeting last night.

For the second year running Wyre Forest District Council has frozen council tax for the services it provides which means in 2017/18 residents will continue to pay just £3.95 a week for all day to day district council services which include waste and recycling, parks, community safety, environmental health, planning, sports, leisure and tourism.

This year’s budget – and new three year budget strategy – includes new initiatives to support regeneration and economic development in the district,  to create jobs and much needed housing for local people while also growing its own income generation streams.

The budget allows access of up to £10million to provide loans to third parties for projects that will help deliver the district’s regeneration and economic development objectives, create jobs, provide housing and support a successful local economy.

Approval of individual proposals for either loans or property investment will only be made after careful analysis of robust business cases and will need to produce new income streams to ensure the cost of funding - such as the cost of borrowing - is fully met.

Government changes in the way councils are funded has prompted the council to look for new ways of growing income to support services. This year’s budget allows up to £25 million of funding for schemes that will grow the council’s portfolio of capital assets,  create new income streams and support economic regeneration and housing priorities.

The 2017/18 budget also sees the continuation of the Localism Fund which provides much needed investment for local communities.

The council consulted on budget proposals with all key proposals winning the majority of support from the 229 people who completed the survey in December.

Cabinet member for Resources Councillor Nathan Desmond said:

This truly is a budget that invests in our future and will help support the growth of our local economy in Wyre Forest.

“It will help us attract more businesses to the district, create new jobs, more homes for families and ensure our economy continues to go from strength to strength.

“I’m very pleased that the budget delivers a freeze of council tax for the second year in a row and was supported by nearly 60% of people who responded to the consultation.”

Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of the Council said:

“We will continue to make savings by operating more efficiently and taking a more commercial approach to generate additional income from sources other than Government grants and council tax.

“We have shown we can deliver big regeneration projects such as Wyre Forest Leisure Centre and work with partners on schemes like the Hoo Brook Link Road that will make the district more attractive to new businesses and support a successful local economy.

“The focus on investment and growth in this year’s budget will allow us to build on that great track record and find new and innovative ways to realise our vision where people have a good quality of life and want to live, work, visit and invest in Wyre Forest.”

The budget provides funding to:

·         Invest and develop the Green Street Depot to support the continuing development of income-generating commercial services which help fund district council services as well as addressing essential improvement.

·         Top up the single Localism Fund to £50k to continue the good  work done so far in partnership with Parish and Town Councils and other local organisations.

·         Provide a further £100,000 match funding investment to support the £3 million Heritage Lottery Funding bid to improve Brinton Park (in addition to the £100,000 already allocated).

·         Provide £25,000 to produce a master plan for the potential redevelopment of Stourport Riverside.

·         Continue to provide £33,000 for the Community Leadership Fund which supports local charities and good causes in every ward of the district. 

Wyre Forest District Council collects council tax on behalf of other authorities including Worcestershire County Council, Police and Crime Commissioner, Fire Authority and parish and town councils and keeps only 12p in every pound collected to fund district council services.

View the budget papers here and amended papers, taking into account this week’s Government’s final settlement, here.