SOUTH Lakeland District Council will be considering a nil increase in Council Tax for 2013/14 at a meeting of full council next Thursday.

The authority remains under pressure to balance the budget deficit from 2014/15 onwards, which will increase from £1.1m to £1.8m per annum by 2016/17.

The Local Government Finance Settlement was lower than expected. Funding given to the council from central Government for 2013/14 is £555,000 less than the previous year. However, the Cabinet is presenting to council a balanced budget by using an increase of £190,000 of Council Tax paid by second homes owners and a further £471,000 will be used from a Reserve fund.

Provision is also being made to reduce the impact of car parking charges to stimulate the local economy, and investment in major events to enhance the offer in towns across the district. SLDC identified a further £1.3m of savings, and work is continuing to develop this further over the next two years. All council services continue to be reviewed.

The budget proposals recommended by the SLDC Cabinet have been considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees with consultation taking place with the public, partners and stakeholders. The Shadow Cabinet will be presenting a number of alternative budget proposals at the meeting, which starts at 6.30pm at Kendal Town Hall.

One of the proposals to be considered is a project that would look at increasing the size of car parks where demand regularly exceeds supply. The suggestion is for the project to be part of the Capital Prioritisation process. Estimates show that for a capital investment of £3.5m, popular and well used car parks could be expanded creating additional revenue of £261,000 per year. This will pay back the initial investment over a 13 year period. Another proposal is to look at launching a Local Authority Mortgage Scheme to help first time buyers have access to 95% mortgages to try and kick start the housing market. The recommendation is for SLDC to invest £1m with mortgage lenders and the council would receive either a premium per agreed mortgage or a favourable interest rate on any cash held by lenders. This should cover the cost of any defaults so the scheme should be cost neutral in revenue terms.

The full agenda including all the details is available on the SLDC website at