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 2018/19.
The council provides a wide range of services and expects to spend in the region of £571m in the next financial year on areas including refuse collection, street cleaning, planning, social care and road maintenance. This budget is based on an assumed central Government contribution of £91.5m towards general services and £195.6m specifically for schools.
While the outline budget at this stage is based on a series of assumptions about central government funding, each year the public are invited to comment on the council’s priorities and council tax levels for the coming year.
As we continue our drive to keep services sustainable for the future, the council is proposing to repeat last year’s council tax increase of 1.99 per cent to help cover increased costs in providing services. It is also proposed to levy the additional 3 per cent adult social care precept, the money raised from which will go directly to providing support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. These increases were included in the forward plan outlined in last year’s budget, which was designed to allow the council to better plan for the future by having a clearer idea of funding levels year on year.
It is anticipated that these changes will mean an increase of approximately £67.84 per year in overall council tax bills (or equivalent to £5.65 per month) for a band D household.
Despite increases in previous years, we still anticipate that current annual spending will be more than our income through to 2021/22. This means that further tough decisions will be needed in the coming years.
From 2011-17 we have realised cumulative savings of £63.6m in annual spending through a range of efficiency measures. Wherever possible, this has been done with a priority to protect frontline services from spending reductions while delivering better value for money to residents. We have also identified a further £10.5m per annum of future savings to take place across 2018/19 and 2019/20. Even with the assumption that the full savings plan is achieved, there is still a predicted budget gap amounting to £15.7m by 2021/22. This means that work is ongoing to identify further potential savings in order to balance the books.
In setting out the budget for 2018/19 and in planning for future years, the council makes projections about future events, based on a best assessment of the position at the time.
Most notably we will need to review the council’s overall financial position later this year in light of:
- The Government’s Autumn Statement (22 November 2017)
- The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement (this sets out the level of funding the Government gives to each local authority and what they specify certain parts of that money can be spent on) expected in early/mid-December 2017
- Developments as the Government progresses its plans to leave the EU
- The general UK economy
- The developing role of the West of England Combined Authority
- Changes to the business rates system and Fair Funding Needs Assessment.
Further information about these factors can be found in the Cabinet papers considered on 6 November. (https://council.southglos.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=10105)
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor John Goddard, said: “We have a strong record of delivering efficient services to our community and to achieving good value for council taxpayers’ money. We are committed to continuing to protect the key services which residents and businesses rely upon as best we can, even as we continue to make the savings we have to in order to balance the books.
“All of our council tax and business rate payers have a stake in these proposals and so I want to encourage everyone to take part in this consultation process. We want to hear your views on this budget, not just in terms of how much we allocate to a particular service, but to hear from people more broadly about the priorities they would like us to apply in making the decisions ahead.”
People can share their views in the following ways:
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By completing a consultation survey (available to complete online or download from the council website: https://consultations.southglos.gov.uk/consult.ti/Budget2017/consultationHome
- By writing to: Freepost RTXL-YJXJ-BXEX, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Budget 2017, Council offices, Badminton Road, Yate, Bristol, BS37 5AF
- By telephoning 01454 868154.
The consultation closes on 12 January 2018 and the results will be considered by full Council in February 2018.