Extra investment plans announced in new Council budget

Published Tuesday 1 March 2022 at 9:00

The Council has approved its budget for the coming year – with a boost for many Council services.

Efforts to keep our streets clean and other key Council services are getting a lift as part of the Blackburn with Darwen Council’s budget for 2022/23.

This extra investment of £1.5m will pay for improvements in environmental services and highways. This includes more staff to support litter picking, bin emptying, maintaining green spaces and parks.

Road markings will also be repainted and signs replaced this year to improve safety and help deter anti-social behaviour.

Another priority is to fund free access to leisure activities this year to give a boost to residents’ health and wellbeing. Libraries will also be opening their doors for longer. Other plans included in the budget include working with communities to support climate change goals in the borough and support for vulnerable children.

Now in its final stages, the borough’s new Local Plan sets out how development and growth requirements across the borough up until 2037 will be met. It includes the £250 million transformation of Blackburn Town Centre, including the former Thwaites site and proposed relocation of Morrisons, and the £90m Darwen Town Deal investment plans.

There are also proposals for a new Household Waste Recycling Centre for the borough which would significantly upgrade the borough’s existing facilities. Council Tax makes up 39% of the Council’s income to help fund services.

The Council relies on Government funding, local business rates and other income including grants, fees and charges to make up the remainder of its budget. Since 2010 the Council has had to make cuts of over £140m, over 40% of its overall budget.

In its funding settlement for Councils, the Government continues to assume that all Councils will increase their Council Tax by the maximum. The general increase in Blackburn with Darwen is 1.99% plus 2% which is to be used solely for social care

Councillor Vicky McGurk, Executive Member for Finance and Governance, said:

We are still facing difficult financial times as we come out of the pandemic and face rising costs in energy bills and food, and we know many people are still suffering the effects of the last two years.

Every year the Council has a legal obligation to agree a balanced budget and this year Central Government in their calculation of our funding assumes these increases. These are unfortunately why there has been a Council Tax rise – we have kept this a slow as we can and the increase is going completely to support our vital social care sector.

We have had years of austerity and budget cuts from the Government and with the Council Tax rise they are asking residents to pay even more. We have kept the increase as low as we can while still balancing our budget but we know this is far from ideal.

However, we are bringing in new and crucial investment for environmental services and highways following residents’ feedback on these issues, and this will hopefully see improvements in our green spaces and streets and crack down on littering, flytipping and community safety.

The Council still provides hundreds of services across the borough and will continue to do so despite budgets being squeezed. As ever, we ask the Government to commit to fair and proper funding for our Council’s services especially as we are all seeing the cost of living go up and the effect this has on all our communities.”

Council Leader Councillor Mohammed Khan CBE said:

Despite another tough financial year, I am really pleased that we have still been able to invest in issues that matter most to our community.

These include improving our neighbourhoods, our communities and the health and prospects of everyone in our community. These are key priorities for us and we are really proud to be investing more into this

We’ve listened to residents and know that for many clean streets and highway services are what people want to see more investment in. We know these are still difficult times for many of us and budgets are difficult in these situations.

Once again, we ask that the Government provides better long-term investment into communities like ours, invests in its levelling up agenda and increases its financial settlements to help us recover fully from the effects of the pandemic and realise all the potential we have in Blackburn with Darwen.”



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