Waverley Borough Council’s 2023/24 budget was approved by councillors at a gruelling four-hour meeting of the full council on Tuesday night.

Despite significant cuts to Government funding, the council says it has balanced its budget over the coming year, while also maintaining services and the current level of financial support to the voluntary sector.

Council tax will increase by 2.99 per cent or £5.85 per year for an average Band D property.

The budget includes provision for further investment in major projects, new affordable housing, parks and sporting facilities.

Fees and charges, such as planning fees are set to increase broadly in line with inflation, while parking tariffs will remain unchanged from current levels. Rent for council tenants will increase by four per cent.

Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for finance, assets and commercial services, Councillor Mark Merryweather said: “I’m pleased to say that thanks to hard work and dedication, we have produced a fair and balanced budget with no cuts in services and no reductions in community grants. 

“The long tail of the Covid pandemic continues to impact on our finances, while our costs are rising and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis is increasing the demand for our services among the most vulnerable in our communities.

“In the short term, with just a small rise in council tax of 11p per week on a band D property, we have managed to offset these headwinds through efficiency, innovation and improved procurement strategies, including savings achieved as a result of our partnership with Guildford Borough Council.

"However, beyond that we still have to deal with the remaining unresolved funding gap which rises to £2.3m in 2026/27.”

Councillor Paul Follows, leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “I want to thank my colleague Cllr Merryweather and the finance team for the herculean effort it has taken to produce a balanced budget that not only manages to protect vital services, but is also based on a sound and sensible medium-term financial strategy focused on efficiency, investment and income generation. 

“The combination of continued Government cuts and high inflation is incredibly difficult for us to deal with, because we have limited ability to increase our income. The last thing we want to do is pass cost increases on to our residents - who are themselves being squeezed on all sides but we have no alternative in order to maintain our community facilities and protect service levels for our residents. 

“We have therefore worked very hard to ensure that financial hardship funds are available and targeted to support the most vulnerable in our communities. We also continue to call on the government for a fair and long-term solution for council funding that allows us to properly protect and invest in our communities.”