Council budget consultation 2021/22
At a cabinet meeting on 22 December 2020, the cabinet's draft budget for 2021/22 was approved for consultation.
We have put forward our ambitious draft recovery budget proposals for 2021/22 against the challenges of COVID-19 to support economic growth, climate change and our commitment to make Cheltenham the Cyber Capital of the UK.
The proposals focus on a recovery that offers opportunities for jobs growth, investment, sustainable communities and tackling the climate emergency.
Key proposals within the draft budget papers include:
- The Golden Valley Development - home of Cyber Central UK sets a vision for a campus style development focused around innovation in the cyber sector, driving forward the UK’s mission to be a science superpower and global lead in cyber security. It also seeks to deliver up to 4,000 homes, directly contributing to another council priority regarding housing delivery and achieving a target of 40% affordable homes.
- Carbon neutrality - a renewed commitment to becoming a net zero carbon council and borough by 2030, this will allow the council to play its part in a collective national effort to rebuild. The budget proposals provide an additional finance to climate emergency initiatives on top of the funding already allocated
- Economic development - a key priority within the recovery strategy surrounds revitalising and reshaping the economy. The council aims to encourage collaboration across sectors to ensure that culture, hospitality and creativity is interweaved into its economic recovery plans particularly in enhancing the cyber investment plans, supporting the creative revitalisation of the High Street, and the imaginative use of local open spaces. The £5.2 million flagship scheme in the heart of Cheltenham town centre, known as the Minster Innovation Exchange, forms a huge part of realising this ambition. The budget proposes an additional £75,000 to ensure permanent resource is available to lead on recovery.
- Increasing apprenticeships - Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the UK’s employment, and young people have been hardest hit. The cabinet is committed to show leadership through investment in the future of apprenticeships and these budget proposals provide an additional £75,000 which will provide for a cohort of apprentices who will commence employment at the council in September 2021.
- Council tax – a proposed increase of 2.34% increase in council tax in 2021/22; an increase of £5.00 for the year for a Band D property (which government is indicating is permissible without trigging a referendum)
The District Council’s Network have been lobbying for district council’s to have greater flexibility to increase council tax by up to £10.00 for the year for a band D property to help tackle the financial impact of COVID-19. If this were permissible the cabinet would propose to earmark and ring-fence this additional sum to provide more funding to boost recovery by investing in projects that help meet the council’s stated ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030, and seeks views from the public as part of the budget consultation.
The proposals set out in the 2021/22 budget, will ensure that we continue to invest in local services, support economic growth in our town particularly with the continued impact of the pandemic, and support residents - whilst continuing our commitment to becoming the Cyber Capital of the UK, which is critical to ensuring job growth and economic prosperity for the people and communities of Cheltenham. Continued prudent, careful, yet bold decision making in our budget plans, along with our Covid-19 recovery plan, should go a long way towards ensuring that the council has a solid financial platform to lead recovery. Our pioneering initiatives such as the Golden Valley Development, £180m housing investment plan and the Minster Innovation Exchange put the council in a strong position to lead the recovery.
How to comment
Final budget setting
The full council will meet to set the budget, taking into account feedback from the budget consultation process, on Monday 22 February 2021 at 2.30pm. At this meeting, council will also agree the level of council tax, taking into account the requirements of Gloucestershire County Council and the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner.
The final budget for 2020/21 was approved at a full council meeting on 17 February 2020.