Consultation on budget proposals for 2021-2022
Update - 4 March 2021
The council’s budget for 2021/22 was approved by councillors at a meeting on Thursday 25 February 2021.
As part of the budget, a £5 or 10p per week, average increase for the borough council part of the council tax for 2021/22 was agreed which is likely to make it one of the lowest of the districts in Hampshire, and most of the rest of the country, again.
To help fund services, as well as a small increase in council tax, a 3% average increase in fees and charges will help to pay for the costs of these services without putting the burden on council tax payers.
Following a public consultation between November 2020 and January 2021, a number of options were removed from the final budget proposals, including the proposed removal of free parking for disabled badge holders in council owned car parks, proposed removal of a subsidy for pest control fees for residents in receipt of benefits and a proposed reduction in grants the council pays to parish councils for grass cutting.
The final budget includes reduced savings proposals for B LOVE in 2021/22 and a review of the council’s IT resources as the council works to open up more digital channels for residents.
An amendment to the budget, voted for by councillors at the meeting on 25 February, will see the removal of a proposed above inflation increase in bulky household waste charges and a reduction in the overall proposed increase for the annual charge for the council’s garden waste service.
We provide day to day services for communities across the borough, including waste and recycling collections, keeping streets and areas clean, community safety patrols and supporting vulnerable residents.
As well as providing services that residents value, we are an ambitious council working with the private sector on a number of projects, which will ensure the borough remains a great place to live and to provide new jobs.
We want to protect our frontline services that you value most. To do this we have and continue to look at how we can do things differently and work more effectively with our partners.
Each year we are required by law to set a budget, which shows how we plan to pay for our services for the following year and beyond to understand the financial pressures we will face in future years.
As a result of past decisions, the council’s finances are in a strong position and we have responded well to issues that face local government during one of the most challenging financial periods in history.
Due to cuts in government funding, the council has lost £6.5 million of funding since 2010. Despite making £15.1 million of savings since 2009, the council is facing a £4.2 million budget gap by 2024/25.
In addition, like many other councils our budget has been put under further pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with falling income and extra costs to provide support during this unprecedented time.
An overview of council funding
There are three main sources of money that we have access to – revenue budget, capital budget and reserves. You can find out more about how we use these budgets by watching the animation below:
Our revenue budget is the funding that we have to deliver our day to day services and we raise this income in a number of ways including the borough’s share of your annual council tax bill, business rates, fees and charges for additional services.
Unlike many other councils we have a large commercial property and cash investments portfolios. The income we get from property we own is double the amount we get from council tax and business rates. For a closer look on how we raise income, please watch the animation below:
Here is a breakdown on how we spent our revenue budget last year:
Capital funding is used to pay for expenditure on improving facilities such as car parks, undertaking large scale projects, investments and the purchase of property, which in some cases provides an income to help pay for our services.
It is also important that we hold funding to help us pay for emergencies and unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic these are called reserves. With some councils facing difficult decisions and not having enough money to pay for services, our financial management has ensured that we have appropriate reserve funds to help pay for services and respond to emergencies such as COVID-19 for a short period. The reserves we currently hold are equivalent to the money we spend on our services for about 18 months.
Our proposals for 2021-2022
The proposed budget sets out how we plan to use our resources to deliver our day to day services and support the priorities identified in the Council Plan 2020 to 2024.
Our focus is to lay strong foundations that will shape the way the borough grows over the next 25 to 30 years and deliver opportunities for all communities. We aim to ensure residents and future generations continue to enjoy an excellent quality of life and environment, which good planning can secure.
With a funding gap of £4.18 million (before budget proposals and new pressures) predicted in 2024/25, the context in which we are working to deliver our priorities is challenging:
- Central government is expecting local councils to be more self-sufficient in the way they fund services for residents
- Government funding reductions also affect Hampshire County Council, which looks after areas such as education and highways, and it has recently identified significant savings measures that are likely to impact the borough council provision
- Interest rates are at an all-time low, affecting the return achieved on our investments, yet demands for services continue to grow
- Just doing the same costs more.
The budget proposals will ensure we are in a good financial position so we can protect frontline services, look after the borough’s assets, give vulnerable people the help they need, invest in shaping the way the future grows and transform our services through the use of new technology to support the borough’s digital future.
We have identified additional proposals to save and raise additional income of £3.21million in 2021/22, increasing to £3.77million by 2024/25. Alongside this, we have pressures of £2.15million in 2021/22, reducing to £1.60million in 2024/25. With a £1.03 million budget gap in 2021/22, we are awaiting confirmation of government funding to help address this as part of its annual spending review.
We have considered a wide range of options to balance the 2021/22 budget however we have identified the following options as being the most effective:
- Increasing the borough council’s contribution of council tax by £5, bringing the total for the average household to £131.42 per year.
- Reviewing the charges for services the council provides, such as car parking. The proposals include an average 3% increase in fees and charges to cover inflation and rising costs. This is a fair way of balancing the cost between those who decide to use these optional services and everyone having to pay.
- Reviewing our services in line with the priorities identified in the Council Plan 2020 to 2024 to ensure our services continue to meet residents’ needs now and into the future. We are also proposing to review the level of support we provide for services run by other organisations.
- Looking at how we work to ensure that as an organisation, we continue to work more efficiently. This also includes looking at ways the council can bring in additional income through commercialisation activity, maintaining our assets and building on the council’s strong financial management.
For more information, including detailed proposals, please watch this animation and read the budget proposals guide below.
The following documents were provided as part of the consultation:
The consultation has now closed.