Thame Town Council Budget 2021 – 2022

In preparing its budget for 2021-22, Thame Town Council has again looked hard at where it can make savings (both in terms of cuts and further efficiencies), while at the same time providing the projects, functions and services that the community of Thame expect to be delivered by the Town Council.

As last year, the Town Council is going one step further in its transparency and community involvement, by offering the public opportunity to contact us via email, in writing to Town Hall or by phone (request a call back), deadline 5 Jan 2021.  This enables any resident of Thame to make a suggestion or discuss the draft budget in detail with the Acting Town Clerk or members of the Budget Working Group.  There is potential then for the Budget Working Group to refine the budget still further, in response to feedback from the community of Thame.

Initial discussions of the Budget Working Group have led to a first draft budget being prepared, that retains all of the significant funding items from this year (i.e. contributions to the Thame Town Music Festival, Cuttle Brook flood prevention measures, the Thame Senior Friendship Centre, a Youth Worker, the Red Kite Family Centre and the renewal of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan).  An increase in staffing costs is also funded, allowing for a replacement Project Officer, please note however as advised by the Government, staff pay increases (over threshold £24k) will be frozen for 1 year.

We are unable to draw down on our general reserves this year as a result of our loss of income (approx. £81,000) and additional expenditure that was incurred (approx. £20,000) due to Coronavirus.  It is important that residents are aware that Thame Town Council did not receive any funding from the Government and in addition we did not receive any reductions in business rates which has meant we have had to fully absorb all losses which has greatly impacted on our general reserves.  We supported market traders and other projects with free rent / no payments to help stay afloat in these times of hardship and yet we still had to pay business rates to cover market, town hall and our depot.

There are some other cost increases due to the withdrawal of funding from SODC Council for emptying dog bins in the Thame area plus cost incurred by supplying an additional vehicle to help deliver packages to the most vulnerable in addition to extending staff coverage to ensure market area is Covid-19 safe.

Various savings have been identified, with the main one being pay freeze for all staff for 1 year and numerous other minor adjustments, both up and down, have been made to reflect realistic cost / revenue expectations for the coming year.

For the sixth year running, the Town Council will also primarily call on its Capital Reserves for capital projects, rather than funding through the precept, though some continued allowance has been made for smaller capital items.

The net impact of all the above changes is that for the financial year 2021-22 the full precept in the current draft budget is proposed to be 3.79%, which equates to £3.14 per week (for the average Band D household).   The new yearly amount is £163.92 compared to last year at £157.94

In 2021-22, if there is no further change to the current draft budget, the average whole household (i.e.Band D) will contribute just over £3 per week (through the precept portion of Council Tax) towards the funding of all the projects, functions and services that Thame Town Council provides for the community.

If anyone has any comments on whether £3.14p a week (or a different amount?) is a reasonable amount, or suggestions on where we should spend more, or less, or the same, we would be pleased to hear from you as detailed above at our virtual drop in.  We always welcome suggestions from residents on ways that we can improve our budgeting still further.

The Town Council receives no contribution from the Business Rates paid – those funds all go to Central Government, and then to County and District Councils.  The Town Council will continue its campaign for a small direct share of the Business Rates so that the tax burden does not fall so much on the residents of Thame.

A detailed 32-page draft budget report – showing the proposed budget for 2021-22, in comparison to this year and last year is available.

Thame Town Council is committed to continuing to deliver projects and is supporting the Thame Football Partnership with the installation of the 3PG Pitch as well as arranging functions/services that residents, workers, and visitors to the town expect, at a price that the residents are prepared to pay, and we thank everyone for their ongoing support in that work.

Date posted: Thursday 17 December 2020