Watch a webcast of the meeting of Full Council, which took place on Thursday 23 February 2023.
Woking Borough Council’s financial plans for 2023/24 will be decided by elected members at an Extraordinary Council meeting on Thursday (23 February 2023).
Following significant work by officers and councillors, a balanced budget (where total revenue is equal to total planned spending) has been achieved through a range of measures set out in the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which includes driving efficiencies and implementing cost savings, as well as the use of £8.3 million in financial reserves.
As part of the balanced budget, Woking Borough Council’s share of the annual Council Tax charge will rise by 3% from 1 April 2023.
The increase means that Band D households will pay £263.12 per year, an annual increase of £7.66, equivalent to less than 15 pence per week, for services such as refuse collections, planning services and leisure facilities.
The borough’s Council Tax charge will be added to Surrey County Council’s 2.99% increase which includes their Adult Social Care charge (£1,675.08 for Band D households), and Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner’s £15 increase (£310.57 for Band D households).
In total, Band D households will now pay £2,248.77 for their Council Tax during 2023/24.
Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Since my administration gained control of Woking Borough Council, getting its finances under control and presenting a balanced budget for 2023/24 has been our priority.
“Achieving this has meant taking a responsible, affordable, and most importantly, a sustainable approach to the Council’s finances.
“Whilst an increase in Council Tax is never welcome, especially at a time when households are struggling with the cost of living, the below inflation Council Tax increase is necessary to safeguard services in the short-term.
“Despite the setting of a balanced budget, the Council’s medium and long-term financial position remain critical.
“It remains unclear how the Council will establish future balanced budgets without making difficult decisions around the continued delivery of some services. Further cost savings are inevitable to reduce the unsustainable reliance on the Council’s financial reserves.
“Through steps already implemented by my administration, we are delivering the best possible outcomes for residents that establish vibrant, prosperous and dynamic communities where people want to live, work and visit.”
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Dale Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Finance, added: “Let me be clear. We face a mountain of unsustainable debt, together with an uncertain and challenging future. It will require painful decisions about which services we can deliver.
“Significant obstacles lay ahead including an over-dependence on commercial rent and parking income, unaffordable debt and budgetary restraints usually applied under a Section 114 notice.
“Rescuing the borough’s finances will require implementing a fundamentally revised budget beyond this Medium Term Financial Strategy, optimising the Council’s investment portfolio, and improving governance and controls. It will also require significant debt restructuring and that is not our decision to make.
“The path ahead is long, narrow, uncertain and precarious. Yet it is the only one available to us to rebuild a council focused first on delivering services, investing in local priorities, is prudent, has regained the confidence of government and most importantly has restored the trust of residents.”
Read Cllr Barker's statement to the Extraordinary Council meeting held on Thursday 23 February 2023
Watch the Extraordinary Council meeting
All households will shortly receive their Council Tax bills for 2023/24. Anyone experiencing difficulties paying their Council Tax are encouraged to contact Woking Borough Council for advice by calling 01483 755 855 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org