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 2017/18.
The council provides a wide range of services and expects to spend in the region of £541m in the next financial year on areas including refuse collection, street cleaning, planning, social care and road maintenance, and incorporating around £189m on 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.
The consultation also asks local people to consider the council’s ongoing savings programme and will take the opportunity to hear views on any potential devolution deals in the future.
During the last six years up to the end of this year, we will have reduced council spending by more than £63m 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 anticipate, however, that we need to continue to reduce our spending and have already provisionally identified £14m of further savings that we will need to make by 2019/20. More work will also be needed to identify where an extra £13m of savings can also be made over the same period to meet the remaining shortfall between expected income and current spending to balance the books.
Last year, following five years of council tax ‘freezes’, the council chose to increase the rate by 1.99 per cent. The government also allowed councils to add an extra 2 per cent ‘precept’ to help fund increasing costs in adult social care. The council is proposing to repeat those increases again this year as we enter the seventh year of national austerity measures.
In setting out the budget for 2017/18 and in planning for future years, the Council makes projections about future events based on a best assessment of the position at the time. The proposals set out in this year’s budget consultation are made subject to a number of events and new information that the council will learn more about in the coming months. These include:
• The Government’s Autumn Statement (expected in November 2016);
• The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement (this sets out the level of funding the Government gives to each local authority and where they specify certain parts of that money can be spent on), expected in early/mid-December 2016);
• Developments in the light of the EU Referendum decision;
• The general UK economy; and
• Progress on Devolution.
Chair of the council’s Resources Sub-Committee Cllr John Goddard said: “As a council we have a strong track record of delivering efficient, value for money services to our residents. We also know that we need to continue to make savings, but we are committed to continuing to protect as best we can the key services our residents and businesses rely upon.
“I want to encourage council tax and business rate payers to take part in this consultation process as we set not just the budget in terms of how much we allocate to a particular service, but more broadly to let us know about the priorities they would like us to apply in making the decisions ahead.
“As part of this consultation we are also seeking the views of the public on what their views are regarding any potential devolution deals in the future.”
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_18/consultationHome
• By writing to: FREEPOST Plus RTCT-JXLE-EETT, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Budget Consultation, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, BRISTOL, BS15 9TR
• By telephoning 01454 868009.
The consultation closes on 23 January 2017 and the results will be considered by full Council in February 2017.