At a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday, 24 January 2024, councillors agreed on the council’s 2024/25 annual budget. Headlines from the meeting were:
- Council agreed to a below-inflation increase of 2% to the Council’s element of the Council Tax, meaning that its Band D equivalent Council Tax will go up by a small amount from £125.99 to £128.51 per annum. Council was again reluctant to recommend a Council Tax increase in line with the rate of inflation as it is conscious that residents are facing large increases in other essential bills.
- Council also agreed to a below-inflation increase for allotment rents of 4% per annum, again recognising the need to keep increases to a minimum whilst at the same time contributing to rising costs for material, labour, and services across the board.
- In terms of new expenditure, Council has considered the unexpected withdrawal of funding for sessional youth workers by Northumberland County Council and increased the available Youth Services budget to £30,000 as match-funding for the newly established Seaton Valley Youth Provision Working Group. Council will also invest a further £16,150 in staffing to support service improvements for allotments and plot holders, as well as minor repairs on playparks and other council assets.
In finalising its 2024/25 budget, Council also agreed to continue funding for the following key activities:
- A free school holiday activity programme in Seaton Valley in partnership with Northumberland County Council Sports Development Team that includes a packed lunch for children who take part.
- Funding support for community events in each of its five villages.
- Christmas events, entertainment, and Christmas lighting in each of the villages.
- Partnership arrangements with Northumberland County Council which provide grass-cutting, floral planting and environmental services to the community.
Cllr. Susan Dungworth, Chair of the Council, said, “This year’s budget has been difficult to balance against a backdrop of significant inflation and the County Council’s decision to withdraw funding for vital youth services at very short notice. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure below inflation increases for residents and continue investing in the services that matter most to the local community.”