The 2017/18 South Gloucestershire Council Budget was agreed at a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 15 February.
A revenue budget of £193.25 million was set, with an increase in the council-controlled element of Council Tax. An increase of 4.99 per cent is made up of a 1.99 per cent general increase plus a further 3 per cent specifically ring fenced to adult social care to help meet the demographic and other service pressures. The increase is designed to help protect council services as funding from central government is reduced. It means that the average charge for a Band D property for the South Gloucestershire Council element of the total Council Tax will be £1,359.62*.
The Budget was debated and passed by Council following extensive public consultation. The survey results showed that 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of some level of council tax rise for 2017/18. Almost half (47 per cent) agreed that the council should increase the adult social care precept from 2 per cent as it was applied last year, to 3 per cent for 2017-18 and 2018-19. A third said they disagreed.
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Councillor Matthew Riddle, said: “As a council we are focussed on delivering services to meet the needs and priorities of all our residents and local businesses. I am pleased to say that we will continue to do that with this year’s Budget.
“While finances remain tight and we continue to look for ways to do everything we can as efficiently as we can, I am pleased that we are also able to invest and build for the future, particularly in school and transport infrastructure projects.
“Given ever-increasing demands on our social care services, we have also taken the decision to increase our Council Tax rate by 1.99 per cent, as well as to take advantage of the Government’s policy to allow local authorities to raise an additional precept to help meet increasing costs for care of our most vulnerable older residents. This additional 3 per cent is allocated directly to helping to fund older people’s care, where wage costs and the complexity of individual’s needs are increasing.
“The council delivers a huge range of services to our whole community and while we are always under pressure to be ever more efficient, where savings have to be made, the priority remains to protect front line services wherever possible. Thanks to the continued and dedicated efforts of our staff, I believe that we are well placed to meet future challenges.
The 2017/18 Budget also includes updated details of the Council Savings Programme (CSP). During the last six years, to the end of 2016/17, the council will have reduced annual spending by more than £63m through a range of efficiency measures. We anticipate, however, that we need to continue to reduce our spending and have already provisionally identified £14m in additional savings that will need to be made by 2019/20. More work will also be needed to identify where a further savings of nearly £15m can be made over the same period to meet the remaining shortfall between expected income and current spending to balance the books in the longer term.
* Total Council Tax payable for some residents will rise slightly above the average 4.99 per cent and others will be slightly below the average. This is because of special expenses. In addition there are increased precepts from the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Fire Authority and most of the 47 Town and Parish Councils.