Waverley’s 2022/23 Budget has been approved by councillors

Published: 23 February 2022

Waverley Borough Council’s 2022/23 Budget was approved by councillors at last night’s Full Council meeting.

The Budget sets out how, despite the pandemic’s continued impact of on the council’s finances, it has balanced the books over the coming year, while maintaining services and its financial support of the voluntary sector at current levels. The Budget includes a £5 per year increase in Waverley’s share of Council Tax for a Band D property, equivalent to a 2.6% increase.

Councillors recognised that rising household bills, inflation and the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift were all expected to have a significant impact on the lowest income households in the coming year, and have agreed to extended the council’s discretionary Council Tax Hardship Fund, adding an additional contribution of £50,000 to the fund this year. The council also agreed to continue the existing Council Tax Support Scheme at the current level.

Increases in fees and charges have been kept broadly below inflation, except in commercial areas such as planning pre-application services, where a new approach will see fees for developers increased, so that they more closely reflect the actual costs to the council of providing the service.

Waverley Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Finance, Assets and Commercial Services, Councillor Mark Merryweather, said: “We know that the Council Tax increases impact very heavily on low-income households and we are doing everything we can to support them via the Council Tax Support Scheme, Discretionary Housing payments and the Council Tax Hardship Fund. We have also moved to protect the total amount of the budget given to our partners in the volunteer sector and community organisations, at £0.8m, through our Thriving Communities Fund.

“The fact that we’ve been able to deliver a balanced budget with no cuts to services, is in large part due to our Business Transformation and commercial programmes delivering cash savings ahead of target. Inflation adds around £900,000 to the cost of providing our services each year, while the Council Tax increase next year will bring in only an additional £277,000.

In the longer term, our financial projections show our funding from Government will continue to fall from around £3.6m in 2022/23, to almost nothing by 2025/26. While we will continue to look for ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs, such heavy cuts to our funding simply aren’t sustainable. The Government’s fragmented and piecemeal approach to financing local councils has failed: it needs to level-up funding for local government and deliver a long-term settlement, so that the vital services we provide to our communities can be invested in and protected for the future.”