Residents in Elmbridge face an increase in Council Tax as the Council faces a "scramble" to fund its services. Elmbridge Borough Council's budget was approved on Wednesday (23rd February), with Council Tax paid by a band D property increasing in the borough from £2,065.95, to £2,158.26 from April 1. This is for everywhere except Claygate, where the amount will be £2,172.41, with a frozen £14.15 precept going to Claygate Parish Council.
The choice by the Liberal Democrat and political "Resident Associations" that run Elmbridge Council to hit residents with the maximum rise in Council Tax could have been avoided if the administration was on top of the finances and had a proper plan to lead the Council. The decision to rely on reserves and hike Council Tax instead was described by one of their own Councillors, Cllr Nigel Haig-Brown, as an approach that “lacks purpose, urgency, and a sense of direction – in short there is no mission which they have every intention of delivering. These budget papers bear all the hallmarks of officers attempting to make the best of a bad job.”
The result is that Elmbridge Borough Council will deplete it’s financial reserves for 7 years, putting services at risk.
Speaking about the Council's plans, Conservative Group Leader, Cllr John Cope, said: "The council's decision to rely on reserves year after year to balance its budget and use desperate revenue raisers like the hated new Car Park Tax is no way to run a Council. It results in real impacts here in Elmbridge, including attempts to close the Walton Playhouse or the paddling pools, Lower Green regeneration in Esher remains nothing but a vague aspiration, feeble progress has been made to achieve a Net Zero emissions council, there's no plan to restore our collapsed garden waste service, no plan for leisure facilities like Hurst Pool despite being ruled not fit for purpose years ago, and no plan to stop relying on reserves to balance the books. Residents deserve better."
If local Conservatives ran the Council, we'd cut waste, improve value for money, & ensure locals keep more of their hard-earned money. If voters give us the privilege of voting for us in May, we will publish a recovery plan within the first few months to get the finances back on track.
What support has the national government given people in Elmbridge and the Council?
- In 2020/21 Elmbridge received an extra £4.5 million funding from government to support services and residents through the pandemic. This figure includes helping low income residents with Council Tax bills, funding for rough sleepers, and measures to support the re-opening of our high streets. In 2021/22, this figure is (so far) an extra £970,000, bringing the total (so far) for both financial years since 2020 to an extra £5.26 million funding for Elmbridge Borough Council from the national government.
- Around 20,900 applications by people in Elmbridge were made to the Furlough Scheme during the pandemic.
- A total of 5,600 local people used the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, worth a total of £61.1 million.
- The government gave Elmbridge Borough Council over £48.7 million worth of business grants to distribute.
- A total of £220.6 million was made available to businesses in Elmbridge through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans and 3,970 Bounce Back Loans.
- The Government provided around £30 million discount on their business rates in 2020/21 to businesses in Elmbridge.
- Over the course of the scheme (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August 2020), 133 restaurants in Elmbridge took advantage of a total of £1.23 million through the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.