TOUGH decisions have been made setting this year's budget said the city council’s joint leaders.

Councillors approved a £12.7 million net budget at a lengthy meeting at Worcester’s Guildhall on Tuesday (February 20).

But joint leader Lynn Denham, a Labour councillor, admitted: “It’s not the budget I wish it could be.

“I wish we could have not had 14 years of austerity. I wish we didn’t have to worry about spending our savings and reserves.

“At the start of the year we inherited a situation where planned spending was greater than income.

“Westminster expects us to raise council tax and what we’ve proposed works out at around a penny a day for the average Worcester home - that’s fantastic value for money.”

Cllr Denham said the budget would act as a platform for the coming year.

Marjory Bisset, joint leader and Green city councillor, said: “A £1.7m forecast deficit has been reduced to £338,000 for 2024/25 and some decisions have been painful - but necessary.

“I think this is a good budget.”

Conservative councillors tried to introduce several amendments to the budget, including freezing allotment fees and pausing the introduction of an entrance fee for the Worcester Show, but these were all defeated in the council chamber.

Labour’s Jabbar Riaz dismissed the proposed changes as “a raft of irresponsible budget amendments.”

Worcester City Council said the year ahead will see investment in heritage and riverside, a new bike hire scheme, a new 3G pitch at Perdiswell and the completion of the Kepax bridge.

Plans are also in place to continue using the £17.9m from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund to regenerate the northern part of the city centre, as well as to redevelop the Scala and Corn Exchange buildings.

Cllr Bisset said: “Once again residents have told us that their top priority is enhancing and sustaining Worcester for future generations, so I am pleased that we have included several important schemes in the budget to boost active travel in our city.”

The council will also use £100,000 of its allocation from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to support the continued running of its Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme (DWAS), which supports vulnerable low-income city households with the cost of food, energy, white goods or other essential items.