South Gloucestershire Council 2016/17 Budget Agreed – Council Tax and Consultation Details
This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.
The 2016/17 South Gloucestershire Council Budget was agreed at a meeting of Full Council tonight (Wednesday 17 February).
A revenue budget of £185.2 million was set, with an increase in the council-controlled element of council tax. An increase of 3.99% is made up of a 1.99% general increase plus a further 2% 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 £1,295*.
The Budget was debated and passed by Council following extensive public consultation. The survey results showed that 68% of respondents were in favour of a council tax rise for 2016/17 of at least 2%.
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Matthew Riddle, said: “The Budget the council has approved is a balance between the resources we have available and the services we provide as a council, which our residents and businesses rely upon.
“This Budget is a plan that we can deliver as a council and, where we need to make further savings, we will continue to consult with the community on potential changes.
“We have made the decision to raise council tax by 1.99%, after five years of council tax freezes, because we recognise the need to protect our services in the current financial climate.
“We have also been given, and have exercised, the power to raise council tax by an additional 2% this year, specifically to help fund adult social care for some of our most vulnerable residents.
“Our priority remains to protect front line services, particularly those delivering for the most vulnerable, wherever we can, which is why we want to encourage everyone to take part in the consultations that are integral to those decisions so that as councillors we can fully understand the impact of the decisions we have to take.”
The 2016/17 Budget also includes details of an updated Council Savings Programme (CSP). Work to reduce ongoing council spending will have saved £56 million by the end of the current financial year and the new plans outline a further £22 million of savings by 2019/20. This will help the council deliver balanced budgets into the future as central government funding continues to be reduced.
Asked about the approach the council should take to make the savings needed to keep a balanced budget, residents and businesses were clearly in favour of actions that focussed on operating efficiently, supporting the most vulnerable and that protect front-line services wherever possible.
The approaches with the highest level of support were:
- 89% – making more efficient use of our land and buildings
- 88% – better use of technology/being more efficient
- 83% – working in partnership with other public sector bodies
- 70% – targeting our resources on the most vulnerable
- 66% – making more services available online.
With the Budget for the coming year now set, work will now commence to help inform a number of key decisions on council services. Significant savings are needed in the budgets for libraries and the amount the council spends on its buildings. The council will also look to introduce a Community Hub model, where appropriate, to provide multiple services from one place in key communities.
To help inform those decisions, a number of 12-week consultations with residents and businesses will begin on 22 February. Details will be published online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation
Some of the key areas we are seeking feedback on are:
Libraries – The council needs to save £640,000 from this budget and consideration is being given to reducing some library opening hours, closing Chipping Sodbury library and ending the Mobile Library service as ways to make this saving. However, no library service changes will be made before October 2017 and the council anticipates that through discussions with the community over the next year, new options will be negotiated to help avoid many of these reductions.
Community Hubs – The council will develop a model of co-located services, including libraries, One Stop Shops (OSS) and potentially other public sector organisations in single, easy-to-access facilities, where possible. Priority areas to look at delivering services in this way will be Kingswood, Patchway and Yate and the council will also look to develop plans to pilot new technological ways of providing access to services in Thornbury.
Accommodation – A range of options will be presented for public feedback, which would allow the council to reduce what it spends on office accommodation, based on the high levels of public support for making efficiencies in this area. Under the proposals in the consultation, some office-based staff would need to relocate to the council’s Badminton Road office in Yate, although the council are committed to continuing to deliver front line services in Kingswood.
* Total Council Tax payable for some residents will rise slightly above the average 3.99% 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.
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