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Leader: budget has been set and we look forward to another successful year

Published: 22 February 2024

Leader: budget has been set and we look forward to another successful year Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of the Council

This week I presented our budget to Full Council. This is an important process we have every year. I am legally bound to set a balanced budget which means our income must be equal to our expenditure.

We will be increasing the City Council element of the Council Tax for an average Band D property to £180.37. That’s an increase of £5.24 a year for a Band D property - around 10p a week.

Set against the total Council Tax bill - the vast majority of which goes to Devon County Council - I think this is good value for money.

We have only been able to raise Council Tax by six per cent over the last two years, compared to inflation of over 16 per cent in the same period. That shows the scale of the problem we have in trying to continue running services in Exeter.

Many of our fees and charges will also have to increase. Part of that increase is in the services we provide, such as leisure, and of course allotments. Understandably, people have been concerned about the level of allotment increases.

I believe the allotment provision in Exeter, with more than 20 sites and 1,577 leaseholders, is very good compared to other districts. The service has been running at a lost and we are in the process of talking directly to allotment holders about how to address this. I have agreed to extend that period to get further good ideas, of which we have had many already.

As a result of the responses we have received, we may well be able to mitigate some of the increase. But it we do have to increase fees, any increase will be split over two years to assist allotment holders.

I hope this demonstrates that I have listened to the majority of concerns on this subject, and that we understand the concerns of people, particularly with increases in utility bills, fuel charges, rents and mortgages – the cost of living crisis is still an issue for us all.

I hope that people are able to find some time to have a look at the Budget Speech which we are publishing, because it highlights a lot of the good things happening in Exeter.  We are doing everything we can to make sure Exeter continues to be a great city to live, learn in and visit, with a great quality of life.

In my speech I highlighted a summary of findings from the Centre for Cities report, Cities Outlook 2024, which shows Exeter:

  • Has the third lowest claimant count in the country
  • The fifth lowest level of residents with no formal qualifications in the country
  • And the fifth highest housing stock growth

It highlights how we have made the city centre safer with the modernisation of our CCTV operation, including 180 new high-definition cameras installed in 80 locations.

The speech highlights the success of our award-winning Passivhaus leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point, which recently celebrated its two millionth visit just 18 months after opening.

It reveals that 700 Council properties have been retrofitted through our award-winning programme making them energy efficient, lowering bills as well as carbon emissions.  More than 200 more are planned over the next year.

The budget speech also highlights the support we have provided residents through the cost of living crisis, the continuing roll out of food waste collections, the work to create a wildlife haven at Northbrook Park, the continued success of RAMM and our cultural venues and the way we are transforming how the Council provides services for our residents.

I would urge people to have a read by clicking the image below or following the link and discover more about how we are delivering the best possible services for the people of our great city:

Untitled - 20 February 2024 at 12.03.08

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