Have your say on budget proposals to keep council tax low and protect services residents value
Approved by Cabinet last night (10 November), a £5, or 10p per week, average increase proposed for the borough council part of the council tax for 2021/22 is likely to make it one of the lowest of the districts in Hampshire, and most of the rest of the country, again.
Despite this, the council still has one of the highest spend per heads of districts in England and the highest of districts in Hampshire. This is despite rising costs and demand for services and a huge reduction in government funding.
Like many others across the country, the council’s budget has also 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.
Maintaining services that residents value, including weekly bin collections, community safety patrols and keeping areas looking their best, are funded as part of proposals to balance the budget next year.
This includes previous commitments for additional funding to increase community safety patrols and a new scheme for councillors to support small-scale projects in their communities, which were delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help fund services, as well as a small increase in council tax, a 3% average increase in fees and charges to help pay for the costs of these services without putting the burden on council tax payers is proposed.
Over the last 11 years £15.1 million in savings have been made while protecting services, with the borough council continuing to look at how it can run more efficiently.
Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Improvement Cllr Hannah Golding said: “Residents’ priorities are at the heart of everything we do and our proposals continue to focus on what matters most to our communities as well ensuring we are well placed to prepare for the borough’s future as we work alongside our partners to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our proposed budget plans for the coming year will continue to make us a low council tax borough despite having one of the highest spending per head on services of all districts in the country.
“Although we have a history of strong financial management, we are having to make difficult decisions with reductions in funding and rising costs and demand for our services to ensure we can continue to provide services in the future. 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.
“Alongside this we are continuing to look at the opportunities we have to address funding gaps in the future, including how we work to ensure we continue to be as efficient as possible and our services continue to meet the needs of our residents.”
“It is really important that our budget continues to reflect the priorities of our communities so we would love to hear from residents, businesses and groups across the borough to help shape our proposals.”
Feedback from the consultation, that runs until 3 January 2021 at www.basingstoke.gov.uk/budget2020, will be considered before final decisions about the budget are taken at a meeting of Council on 25 February 2021.