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District authority to plug part of £4m cash gap with council-owned housing firm

A district council in Cambridgeshire has announced that it will be able to cover around 10% of its yearly budget in 2018-19 through its own housing company.

South Cambridgeshire District Council set up Ermine Street Housing in 2011 and is expecting the firm to generate £1.7m of income over the next year.

Officials say the extra money is sorely needed as the council must save £4.4m over the next five years to stay in the black.

The council also confirmed that it would continue its policy of raising tax by £5 each year on a band D property in an attempt to further plug the gap left by central government cuts.

In a report released by councillors, the authority lists a 2018-19 savings target of £500,000, rising to £1.3m in later years.

Cllr Simon Edwards, cabinet member for finance, said: “There is no doubt whatsoever that we still have a big challenge in front of us as a further £4.4m must be saved over the next five years. However, we won’t be looking to simply stop delivering our services.

“We will, of course, continue to find ways in which we can work more efficiently, but we also want to find other innovative ways of generating income, so we not only maintain current services, but we build on them so we can do much more for residents.

“We are on a journey. Ermine Street Housing is the first step, and now we want to press on and deliver other innovative, and diverse commercial activities which will really put us on a strong footing for the future.”

The full budget proposals, including tax plans, are available on the council’s website.

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