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Consultation: Setting a balanced budget for 2023/24

Each year, we must set a budget that balances spending on services with the resources available. In the current year 2022/23, this is how the council is funding its services.

In recent years, the government has been reducing its grant funding to councils. We get all our income from council tax, business rates, money we raise and specific grants.

Since 2020 there has been significant impact on residents and businesses in the borough. We have incurred additional financial pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to face new financial challenges through the recovery of this pandemic.

The current UK economy outlook is bleak and continues to struggle from the effects of the pandemic along with the impact of the War in Ukraine. Current forecasts suggest Consumer Price Index (CPI) is expected to reach 13% and the Bank of England to set its base rate to over 2% by the end of the year.

Rising costs affect us directly and indirectly. Energy costs have risen and continue to rise, our contractors are experiencing similar financial pressures and will seek to offset these against the Council. Indirectly, the impact of rising costs will see an increase in demand for certain Council services.

With the additional financial hardship to manage, we believe the continuation of delivery of services and regeneration of the borough is the most effective way to help residents and businesses recover and sustain in this current economic climate. We remain committed to supporting the borough and delivering on our Corporate Strategy 2020-2025.

To keep balancing the budget, it is likely we will have to increase our income and reduce spending.

On current forecasts, if we take no action, we expect to have a shortfall in the budget of £1.6 million by 2023/24, rising to £1.9 million in 2026/27.

Council Tax is a significant income source for us to deliver our services. On average, each household paid £1,893.60 in council tax in 2022/23. Only 10.49% of this, which equates to £198.63, is kept by Brentwood Borough Council, helping fund the services it provides to local people and businesses.

We would like your views on how we spend our money and how we might raise more money to help set a balance budget with increasing costs and reduced Government Funding. The information from this survey will be used by Councillors as they set the budget and council tax for 2023/24.

This consultation closed on 16 October 2022.