East Hampshire District Council’s new budget will see a further £1 million put towards community projects in the area.
This is the second such sum to be put aside to support local groups and projects and will make a huge difference to communities recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
The £1 million pot will be funded, in part, by a two per cent increase in Council Tax from 1 April 2021, which works out as an extra 5p a week for a Band D property.
The budget was agreed by councillors after their meeting on Thursday 25 February.
Cllr Charles Louisson, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, said that despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, EHDC was in a good financial situation compared to other local councils.
“EHDC is in a highly sustainable position thanks to our prudent planning and our ability to generate income through sources other than government grants and Council Tax,” he said.
“None-the-less, this has been very tough year and a very difficult one to budget for. We have had continuous challenges week to week and the ever-changing regulations has made it extremely hard to plan effectively.
“Some income streams, such as parking charges were seriously reduced by the lockdowns, but others, such as the property portfolio have held up well. That has allowed us to carry on providing the public services residents expect and also support local people affected by the pandemic.
“That financial security has allowed us once again to put aside £1 million to be distributed in grants to community groups over the next three years.”
The council set aside the same sum in 2019 and has used it to support the most vulnerable people in our community by issuing grants to 40 community organisations over the last three years.
Supporting our most vulnerable residents is at the centre of the budget which also launches a scheme to help people through providing inexpensive white goods.
Local food banks, working closely with the council, have been providing families with food and toiletries throughout the crisis. They have reported that some vulnerable families do not have the means to cook or refrigerate food.
The council has allocated £50,000 to a scheme, to be run in partnership with the voluntary sector, that will offer local people access to kitchen appliances so they can keep their food fresh and eat healthily.
Following the adoption of the council’s Climate and Environment Strategy, the budget allocates a further £250,000 to be used for environmental initiatives, guided by the Climate Liaison panel through their engagement with local Climate Action Networks.
Each councillor will once again be given £4,500 to spend on community projects in their ward, of which £1,000 must be spent on local environmental projects.
Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Leader, said: “The reality is that the budget that Cllr Louisson has put together is one of the most successful budgets we have ever done.
"We are here because of the actions we have taken since the administration started over the last 2-3 years.
“It’s a great position to be in and will help us accelerate the council’s ambitions."