Tamworth businesses asked how council cash should be spent

Businesses in Tamworth are again being asked for their views on where – and how – they feel council money should be spent as part of the annual budget setting process.

The annual Budget Consultation invites people who live, work and volunteer in the town to share their views on how Tamworth Borough Council budgets are allocated and which areas should be prioritised, amid continuing pressure on local authority finances.

The online survey sets out how much spending is planned from the General Fund across borough council-run services - such as refuse collection and recycling, street cleaning, anti-social behaviour, the local economy, homelessness, sports, leisure and events - and asks people to indicate whether the council should spend more, less, or the same, in each area during the next financial year.

Businesses in the area are also specifically asked for their thoughts on the wider economic picture, including what they perceive to be the main barriers to growth in Tamworth and any improvements they feel can be made.

The survey will give the council vital information on what businesses feel the issues are and where they think spending should be focused.

It asks businesses where they are based, why they chose that location, whether their premises will continue to meet future needs and whether they anticipate relocating in the next two years.

We also want to understand what businesses feel are the main barriers to expansion in Tamworth and the areas that could be improved to assist them and the local economy. This could be issues such as Business Rates, which are a national tax on non-domestic properties set by the Government, rents, availability of suitable premises, opportunities for growth, access to finance, access to advice and support, parking provision, roads, transport and more.

This year’s consultation is even more important as the council has predicted a five-year budget deficit of £7m due to anticipated Government funding reforms and the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wide-ranging proposals designed to reduce the shortfall and protect vital and statutory services to the vulnerable have already been approved as part of a ‘Recovery & Reset’ plan.

This means the council will need to make difficult decisions on spending priorities for future budgets, and the views of local residents, businesses and voluntary groups on this is a key part of that process.

Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, Cllr Jeremy Oates, said: “The pandemic has hit everyone financially and we can’t underestimate the impact this has had on our local business community, especially with other factors such as Brexit and supply chain issues in the mix as well.

“While council finances are being stretched more than ever, we are taking action to make sure we are fit for the future, and this includes seeking to improve the economic position of the town as a whole.

“Despite everything that has happened in the last 18 to 24 months, the future is promising for Tamworth and we have some really exciting regeneration plans underway.

“Economic growth and prosperity is one of our key strategic priorities and it’s important that we have a good grasp of the issues that businesses feel may be preventing that.

“While some of the possible barriers are outside our control, such as the level of Business Rates set by the Government and the cost of rents set by private commercial landlords, it is helpful to know what the issues and priorities are so we can understand the wider picture, how we fit into that and what support we can give.

“Please get involved and have your say.”

The Budget Consultation is now live and will be available on the Tamworth Borough Council website at www.tamworth.gov.uk/consultation until October 10. Hard copies of the survey can be requested by emailing enquiries@tamworth.gov.uk, or by calling 01827 709709.

At the end of the consultation, all the responses will go before the Council’s Cabinet for consideration and will help shape the future budgetary spend on council services.

Council spending

Tamworth is a two-tier area with the majority of services provided by Staffordshire County Council, which receives the majority of the Council Tax paid (73%).

Currently, Tamworth Borough Council receives only 10p in every £1 of your Council Tax to provide the services it is responsible for, including waste collection and recycling, street cleaning, parks and open spaces, planning and building control, promoting economic growth and regeneration, leisure services, election administration and support for the homeless.

The majority share of 73p in every £1 goes to Staffordshire County Council for services including highways, transport, education services, care for the elderly, adults and children with disabilities and vulnerable children, museums and libraries, waste management and trading standards.

The remainder goes to the police (13p) and fire service (4p).

Council Tax generates just over £4m for Tamworth Borough Council towards gross spending of almost £47m (based on the current financial year).

Income is also generated though government grants, corporate rents, fees and charges, council house rents and Business Rates.

More information about the council’s priorities, Council Tax and spending are available on the Tamworth Borough Council website.