EHDC approves two per cent Council Tax increase to boost welfare work

Friday, 28 February, 2020

East Hampshire District Council will put money raised by a two per cent increase in Council Tax towards supporting the district’s most vulnerable people.

The increase was agreed by the council at its meeting on Thursday 27 February. It will amount to 5p a week for the average household but would contribute around £215,000 to the council’s Welfare Fund.

The council has previously made clear that residents’ wellbeing is one of its top priorities, with a particular focus on social isolation and mental health in young people.

EHDC Leader, Cllr Richard Millard, said: “I am extremely proud of this budget and what it stands for.

“As a council we have a responsibility to look after everyone, especially those who are not in a position to help themselves. That is why we all became councillors in the first place.

“This Council Tax increase will go a long way to providing services and opportunities for some of the district’s most vulnerable people.”

This is the first time in seven years the council has raised its share of Council Tax.

Cllr Charles Louisson, EHDC Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “This budget seeks to balance the need for prudence with our visions as a council.

“We are running our finances like any family budget - if we can’t afford it, we won’t do it – while seeking efficiencies that allow us to provide better services at lower cost. Savings don’t have to mean cuts. This delivers a secure financial position with strong reserves.

“Robust finances allow us to support vulnerable residents through our welfare agenda to make a real difference to the people who need our help the most.”

Alongside the two per cent increase the budget also puts money aside to support other council priorities.

A fund of £50,000 has been earmarked for environmental projects as part of the EHDC’s commitment to fighting the climate emergency.

Councillors will once again have £4,500 to spend on local initiatives in their own wards. As part of the new budget, £1,000 of this allocation must be spent on green initiatives.

The budget includes £250,000 for Enhance East Hampshire, a strategy to improve key parts of the district.

A further £500,000 has been allocated to the council’s property portfolio to cover maintenance or voids. EHDC has turned to property investment to replace income lost from dwindling Government funding over the last decade. The council’s portfolio currently provides 33 per cent of the council’s total income, and this reserve will help protect it.

For the first time, the council will review the budget in six months to assess its progress.