Wise Tory budgeting braces for end of Whitehall support

IT’S BEEN a financially challenging year for councils across Britain and there are rough seas ahead.

In Fareham, it’s brought out the best of Conservative budgeting and wisest spending of your money. Against the odds, we kept Fareham’s council tax to almost the lowest in England for many years with zero rises, while maintaining services with declining government support.

In his 2017-18 budget speech, Council Leader Seán Woodward said another low rate had been achieved with a modest £5 a year rise for Band D properties. The average home in Fareham is band C, so Borough Council services will cost them just 1p extra per day.

But in 2019, all government revenue support will cease and we’ll be left on our own to generate sources of income, plus what we can get from business rates. Your prudent Conservative Council anticipated this and laid plans to generate income from property investment. He said: “Only £6.3m of our £48m annual budget comes from council tax, so the Borough Council relies heavily on income from fees, charges and commercial investments.

“Days of living off income from cash investments are past with interest rates at record lows, so we began buying commercial property with good solid tenants (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Specsavers etc) providing a much better income. “The commercial portfolio generates a 6% return and the buildings remain an asset to sell if the capital is needed. “75% of the portfolio value is in Fareham.

Recent acquisitions include Halfords, PC World, Argos and Dunelm at Park Gate and a commercial building for Universal Tool and Production at Daedalus. “Millions of pounds annually are now being generated and every £60,000 is equivalent to around 1% off the council tax bill.”