New Forest District Council (NFDC) has announced the annual budget for 2023/24 and an updated medium-term financial plan.
The proposals, announced at a Council meeting on 27 February 2023, will protect essential services and continue NFDC’s investment in the community.
Presenting the budget at the Council meeting, Leader Cllr Jill Cleary described it as “a budget that will look after the best interests of the New Forest residents and Council Tax payers, not only in the next financial year, but also over many years to come.”
There are two distinct parts to the overall budget, with one part funded by housing rents, and the other funded by government grants, Business Rates and Council Tax.
Overall, the two budgets include investment in additional council owned housing, maintenance of existing housing, development of important initiatives to help the climate, and advancement in Community Safety measures.
The Leader gave details of the budget plans in her speech:
“In this budget, we are able to commit to £300,000 in 2023/24 of investment in enhanced Community Safety measures, further enhancing the feeling of safety within our various communities.
We are able to invest £1 million over the next four years in Climate action measures, to improve on the Council’s carbon position, and improve the quality of the local environment we all enjoy so much.
The budget invests £750,000 over the next three years in Council wide transformation.
This programme will deliver improved and more efficient services to the residents and customers of the New Forest and will make a valuable contribution in addressing the Council’s forecast deficit over the Medium Term.
We have set aside £7 million to invest in a new depot facility to safeguard the waste management services for the foreseeable future.
This investment will play a huge part in supporting significant improvements to recycling rates and the achievement of the Council’s climate action plan.
Over the next three years we are able to invest over £11 million on upgraded vehicles and plant, replacing older and less economical models with a new greener and more efficient fleet.
I am also immensely proud of our track record as a housing landlord, with 5,185 Council owned homes providing affordable housing for those who most need it.
The ring-fenced housing revenue account supports the management and maintenance of these properties as well as our ambitious programme to build more affordable homes.
For the housing revenue account, the budget includes proposed investment of over £45 million over the next 3 years in additional council owned housing.
This budget also includes an ability to spend £47 million in planned, reactive and cyclical maintenance also over the next three years, protecting the council’s assets, but more importantly, protecting the well-loved homes of our 6,463 named tenants.”
Cllr Cleary went on to acknowledge increases in Council Tax, rent and charges to support the budget.
“The proposed housing rent increase of 7% provides the necessary increase in income required to fund the increased statutory resident engagement matters, and significant maintenance and capital programmes, including over £1.2million of greener housing initiatives for next year alone.
The fees that we charge for our services have to recognise that the council’s costs have increased. We need growth in fees and charges to help pay for the services we provide and to enable us to do more as we look forward into the future.”
The budget also includes NFDC’s Council Tax for 2023/24 which will be £193.99 for the year for an average band D property, an increase of 2.99%.
To find out more about the budget, residents can read more at https://democracy.newforest.gov.uk/documents/g7727/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Feb-2023%2010.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10