South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) element of the council tax levied on local residents is to increase by 3.99 percent from April and looks set to be followed by similar increases in each of the following three financial years.
Meeting on 17th February, councillors agreed to set a revenue budget of £185.2 million, with the increase in the council-controlled element of council tax being made up of a 1.99 percent general increase plus a further 2 percent specifically ring fenced to adult social care to help meet the demographic and other service pressures.
A council spokesperson said 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 SGC element of the total council tax will rise to £1,295.
Public consultation carried out by the council prior to the budget-setting process showed that 68 percent of respondents were in favour of a council tax rise for 2016/17 of at least 2 percent.
More increases planned
A report presented to councillors showed indicative budget figures for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 which assumed further increases in council tax of 3.99 percent in each of these years.
The agreed 2016/17 budget also includes details of an updated Council Savings Programme. Work to reduce ongoing council spending will have saved £56 million by the end of the current financial year and the new plans outlines a further £22 million of savings by 2019/20. These savings are needed to help the council deliver balanced budgets into the future as central government funding continues to be reduced.
The leader of 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 percent, 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 percent 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.”
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 were launched on 22nd February. Details can be found online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation
Total bill up 3.82 percent
In addition to the South Gloucestershire element, bills that will be coming through letterboxes in the next few weeks will include contributions to the Avon and Somerset Police and the Avon Fire & Rescue Service, both of which have risen by 1.99 percent over 2015/16, and the precept raised by Bradley Stoke Town Council (up by 1.5 percent from last year), producing a grand total of £1,653.41 for a Band D property, an increase of 3.82 percent over last year.
Indicative increases in the total council tax bill for Bradley Stoke residents for the following three financial years are given as 3.33 percent, 3.44 percent and 3.47 percent.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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