South Gloucestershire residents, council tax and business rate payers are being invited to have their say on the council’s budget and council tax for 2020/21.
The current outline budget foresees a council tax rise of 1.99 percent from April 2020, which when coupled with a ringfenced 2 percent adult social care precept would see total bills rising by just short of 4 percent (around £59 for a band D household).
A financial plan produced in 2018 highlights that the council is likely struggle to balance its budget in the coming years, despite a rigorous savings plan being in place. However, the recent government spending review has provided the council with an unexpected fillip in the form of £14.3m extra funding for 2020/21 – split between £11.4m on a one-off basis and £2.9m recurrent should the council proceed with the new adult social care council tax precept.
A statement from the council reads: “Despite [council tax] increases in previous years, our financial planning indicates we will need to make more savings over the next four years to keep pace with increasing cost pressures. Until we have certainty about potential further funding increases in the future, we have to treat those announced this year as one-off, if we are to responsibly balance our books.”
The statement continues: “Since 2011, we have made cumulative savings of nearly £87m in annual spending through a range of efficiency measures. Wherever possible, this work has prioritised protecting frontline services from spending reductions, while delivering better value for money to residents. Based on this approach, we have developed a Transformation and Savings Programme to help us meet the budget challenges ahead. It will allow time for meaningful consultation with staff as well as with the public, depending on the saving being proposed, and sustainable implementation, so that we can set budgets with confidence and not have to make short term, in-year cuts.”
The medium term financial plan assumes savings of £15m expected from the council’s Transformation and Savings Programmes between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
“Even with the assumption that the full savings plan is achieved, there is still a predicted budget gap amounting to £11.9m by 2023/24. This means that work is ongoing to identify further potential savings in order to balance the books.”
Cabinet member for resources, Cllr Ben Burton, said:
“We welcome the recent one-year spending review for 2020/21 and real terms funding increase this sets out for local government and look forward to the longer term budget certainty that a multi-year spending review can bring from 2021/22 onwards.”
“We are totally committed to delivering the services that our communities need and rely on. Our top priorities are to deliver the best possible educational outcomes for all of our young people; to maintaining and improving the places where we live; and to achieving the very best value for money the public money we spend.”
“In the face of continually increasing demand for the services needed by the most vulnerable in our society, the young and the old, we need to balance delivering those services and ensuring we get value for every pound we spend, with balancing the books. And that is why each year we ask residents to let us know about their views and priorities as we plan for the future.”
Residents can find out more and complete an online survey at consultations.southglos.gov.uk
Paper copies of the survey and consultation documents can be obtained at any local library or by phoning 01454 868154.
The consultation closes on 5th January 2020 and the results will be considered by Full Council on 12th February 2020.