After various meetings the Finance Committee finalised the budget for 2016/17 at its meeting in December. The Committee agreed to recommend to Council that the precept plus the tax based grant for 2016/17 should be £195,000. The tax based grant element is in respect of those residents on benefits – this is a government provision which to date has been paid to the Parish Council by Stratford District Council but we cannot always rely upon this.
While this is an increase of 3.1%, it should be remembered that this is the first increase in four years during which time inflation has increased 8.5% and Wellesbourne itself has also increased in size (with more housing to come). In addition, the Council has been funding the WSCC project with the good news being that our existing specific reserves plus the Section 106 moneys from the Redhill development have enabled the Council to sign the contracts to begin the works.
This year budget setting has been a lot more challenging than previously with increases in some areas anticipated as previous contracts are coming to an end and it is expected (although we hope otherwise) that the new tenders will be at a higher level. We have therefore been forced to curtail some of our discretionary spending which has taken place in previous years in order to keep next year’s precept within an acceptable level. Hopefully we will be able to reinstate some of that expenditure in future years and/or apply for grants towards some areas.
While the committee also considered the grant applications, it was noted that, even though the Parish Council had arranged a meeting for prospective applicants to show what we were looking for this was poorly attended. If applicants fail to provide information or to comply with the grant parameters, then there is a real risk that no grant will be made.
Overall, I would like to thank all those involved for all their hard work and care in considering what has, of necessity, been a challenging budget proposal. The fact that the Committee is recommending only a modest increase in the precept is no mean achievement given the increasing costs being faced.
Chairman – Finance Committee