Mendip sets a 'value-for-money' balanced budget

Frontline services protected; a £50m boost for regeneration across the district; and all within a council tax rise of £5 - that's Mendip's value-for-money budget.

Mendip District Council's value-for-money budget for 2020-21 has been set and approved at a meeting of the Full Council (Monday, 24th February).

Sign-off on the finances means the Council can move forward in tackling homelessness, the climate emergency and lending a helping hand to people hit by poverty and austerity.

Cllr Barry O'LearyHowever, Cllr Barry O'Leary, Portfolio Holder for Enterprise and Finance, warned the Council would have to do more, with less funds.

He said: "This budget is presented to you during one of the most uncertain times any of us has ever experienced.

"We're still unsure whether our exit from the EU will end in December without a deal, and the Government's sustained assault on funding for Local Government means that each and every year, we have to try to do more with less - and do it better."

The budget included an increase in Council Tax, of £5 for a Band D property - as a percentage, slightly less than in previous years, at 3.19% per cent. It means an average Band D property will pay £161.61 per year. That's an extra 1.3p per day for the whole basket of Council services. This total does not include £1.84, allocated every year to Somerset Rivers Authority to help implement and fund the county's 20-year flood prevention plan.

The Council pledged to do everything to protect the most vulnerable in the district, by improving front-line services. A significant increase the hardship fund has already been agreed - up 25 per cent.

There was a promise to pump £50m over three years into regeneration schemes across the district, to tackle Mendip's affordable housing crisis, and respond to the needs of local residents.

Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke said: "Looking forward, the continuing reduction - and soon to become complete removal - of all central Government funding of Local Government, plus the earlier than expected reduction in the new homes bonus, will put additional pressure on the medium term position of the Council.

"But we are optimistic for the future, and determined to make Mendip matter to local people, by providing the services our residents need and expect."

Full details of the budget for 2020-21 can be found on the Council's website: www.mendip.gov.uk