The emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic in late March 2020, has had a severe impact on Woodley Town Council’s income levels. Instead of an anticipated income of £762,287, it is estimated that this year’s income will reach just £270,383.
The Council has made reductions where possible while avoiding enforced redundancies, any permanent closure of its facilities and without a reduction in the services it provides to residents.
Anticipating another difficult financial year for 2021-22, the Town Council took an unprecedented step late last year to ask every household in Woodley what Town Council Tax (precept) increase they could accept.
Of the 10,755 households in Woodley who received the survey, one in five households responded.
Many respondents to the consultation provided comments varying from thanking the Town Council Officers for their hard work during these difficult times to suggestions that the Council should first make cuts or changes to facilities, services, staffing and councillor costs or use its reserves.
Precept level 2021-22
Taking the results of the survey into account, and the estimated income due to the ongoing pandemic, the precept level has been set at £1,293,034 for the 2021/22 financial year, an increase of £89,846 on last year’s precept figure.
Approved at the Full Council meeting held on 9 February, the precept level of a Band D property charge will increase from last year’s figure of £112.88 to £119.65 in 2021/22; an increase of £6.79 per annum – 56p per month.
This will raise a total of £1,293,034, with the Council allocating £111,414 from its general reserve to support its 2020/21 expenditure.
Speaking at the Full Council meeting, Town Council Leader Cllr Keith Baker said: “This pandemic has caused huge financial stresses for the Town Council and I would firstly like to thank the Town Clerk and her team of Council Officers for their diligence and determination to continue to provide an excellent service in what has been quite unmanageable circumstances.
“We responded to these financial challenges by asking local residents how much of an increase in the Town Council Tax they could accept. Unprecedented across the Borough, we received a response from one in five households and I would like to thank those who took part. 95.5% of the respondents accepted the lowest increase option, however, the Council has been able to keep the increase to less than a third of this at only 56p per month.”