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 2019/20.
We provide a wide range of services and expect to spend in the region of £618.5m in the next financial year, on areas including schools, refuse collection, street cleaning, planning, social care and road maintenance. This budget is based on an assumed central Government contribution of £87.5m towards general services and £212.1m specifically for schools.
While this is an outline budget at this stage, based on a series of assumptions about central government funding and other factors, each year the public are encouraged to comment on our priorities and council tax levels for the coming year.
As we continue our drive to keep services sustainable for the future, we are proposing a lower council tax increase, of 2.99 per cent next year, to help cover increased costs in providing services. Having levied the adult social care precept at 3 per cent for the past two years, government policy does not currently allow us to increase it any further next year.
It is anticipated that these changes will mean an increase of approximately £43.09 per year in overall council tax bills (or equivalent to £3.59 per month) for a band D household. Even after this increase, our medium term financial planning indicates we will need to make more savings over the next four years to keep pace with increasing cost pressures and further reducing government funding.
Since 2011, we have made cumulative savings of £81.2m in annual spending through a range of efficiency and savings 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 sustainable implementation and meaningful consultation, with staff as well as with the public, depending on the saving being proposed.
The medium term financial plan assumes savings of £21.7m expected from our Transformation and Savings Programmes between 2019/20 and 2021/22.
Even with the assumption that the full savings plan is achieved, there is still a predicted budget gap amounting to £10.2m by 2022/23. This means that work is ongoing to identify further potential savings in order to balance the books.
In setting out the budget for 2019/20 and in planning for future years, we make projections about future events, based on a best assessment of the position at the time.
Most notably we will need to review our overall financial position later this year in light of:
- The Government’s Budget Statement (expected on Monday 29 October 2018)
- 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 2018
- Developments as the Government progresses with leaving the EU
- The general UK economy
- The budget setting process of the West of England Combined Authority
- National changes to the Local Government Finance System and the Fair Funding Review planned for 2020/21.
Further information about these factors can be found in the Cabinet papers considered on 8 October (https://council.southglos.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=11466).
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Rob Creer, said: “We are focussed on delivering the services residents rely upon in a way that supports everyone, but of course we are particularly concerned to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable in our community. We are committed to delivering good value for council taxpayers’ money and protecting the key services which residents and businesses rely upon, even as we continue to make the savings we need to, to balance the books.
“We want to hear from our residents and businesses, who pay their council tax and business rates, because they have a stake in the Council’s budget for the future, so I want to encourage everyone to take part in this consultation process.
“We want to hear your views on this draft budget, not just in terms of how much we spend on a particular service and our savings proposals, but as we look ahead, we want to hear more broadly about peoples’ priorities they would like us to apply in making the decisions that we will need to make 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/Budget19
- By writing to: Freepost RTXL-YJXJ-BXEX, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Council offices, Badminton Road, Yate, Bristol, BS37 5AF
- By telephoning 01454 868154.
The consultation closes on 31 December 2018 and the results will be considered by full Council on 13 February 2019.