Latest information on Council’s budget setting
This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.
The Council’s Resources Sub-Committee received a paper this week which updated the Council’s medium term financial plan with the latest information. The Council received its provisional financial settlement from central government on 17 December 2015, together with further information on potential new powers for Councils to raise funds. The Resources Sub-Committee was the first suitable opportunity to put this new information into the public domain as part of a transparent budget setting process.
The provisional finance settlement from government was worse than that planned for when Policy and Resources Committee last received a budget update in October 2015. Therefore South Gloucestershire continues to face significant funding pressures. In calculating the level of resources available to fund services, central government are now assuming that council tax will be increased, and for South Gloucestershire an increase of 1.99%, which is the maximum increase the council can adopt without triggering a referendum, would contribute around £2.3m to council revenues.
In addition, under new powers from government, we have been granted the power to raise a social care levy to contribute to the growing cost of social care. If this option is exercised, the Adult Social Care Precept would only be available to spend on social care and would be separately itemised on the council tax bill. The 2% would be expected to contribute around a further £2.3m in 2016/17.
Social care authorities have been asked by government to indicate whether or not they are considering this option by 15 January. No decision will be taken until consideration by Full Council (at their meeting to agree the 2016/17 Budget on 17 February), however to maintain flexibility for both options the Council will respond to government that it is minded to take up an increase.
The report showed that even with these potential council tax increases, while the budget outlook is broadly balanced for the coming two years (by spending reserves and other one off funding streams), there is likely to be a shortfall in the financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20, of around £6m and £8m respectively after achieving the current £34m of savings set out in the Council Savings Plan. The council will continue to look to find savings to meet this challenge.
The government has also announced that the way local government is funded will change, with the future retention of business rates, and a consultation will be launched on this over the summer. The Council will wait to see the potential impact of this later in the year on our Medium Term Financial Plan, but the financial situation could change as a result.
The government also announced last year the introduction of a National Living Wage. The Council is currently considering the impact of this on the continued uplift in payment of the Living Wage Foundation’s rate each April. Should the Council decide not to increase wages next April in line with the Foundation Living Wage uplift, views are being sought from staff and unions on how this could be implemented. The Foundation Living Wage is different to and higher than the National Minimum Wage and the government’s recently announced National Living Wage.
In light of the potential impact of this new information and powers, the consultation process that we run each year that helps to inform our annual budget setting process has been extended. Local residents and businesses now have until 31 January to let us know their views on the council’s priorities and approach.
You can find out more or tell us your views by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org; completing our consultation survey, which is available to download from our website; by writing to: FREEPOST Plus RTCT-JXLE-EET, South Gloucestershire Council, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Budget Consultation, Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood, BRISTOL, BS15 9TR; or by calling: 01454 868009.
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