Annual Council Budget 2021/22

Council budget and savings programme consultation 2021/22 –
Have your say

South Gloucestershire Council is responsible for a range of services which your local area receives such as refuse collection and disposal, street cleaning, planning, education, social care services and road maintenance.

South Gloucestershire Council is currently consulting on its budget, council tax levels for next year, and its overall savings plan. Each year, we ask council tax payers for their views before agreeing our budget and council tax. This is your opportunity to comment on the council’s priorities, its council tax and its proposals to improve services and increase efficiency.

It is important that you have a say in how we shape services in the future and our budget consultation is a key part of this. Please send us your views by Sunday 3rd January 2021.

Background: The Wider Context of Funding

All local authorities continue to experience constraints on spending, alongside increasing demand for some of their services. To balance the books local authorities must continue to review what they do and how they do it.

Additionally, there is currently uncertainty over the amount of funding we will have in future. Levels of funding from the government have yet to be confirmed, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has made it hard to be sure how much funding we will receive in future years from income sources like Council Tax and Business Rates.

However, South Gloucestershire Council has a successful track record of delivering savings and will have delivered over £102m by 2023/24.Through early planning and carrying out a range of efficiency measures, the council has protected frontline services and minimised the impact of spending reductions. Given the learning and experience the council has gained over many years, the council intends to follow a similar approach for the additional savings required over the next few years.

To reduce the continually increasing gap between our available resources and our expenditure, we will need to make further reductions in spending. Whilst the value and timing of such cost reductions is predicated on the level of financial support provided by central government and the impact of Covid-19 on the council's finances and demand for our services, the council is looking to make preparations for areas where cost reductions may need to be made.

Savings of this level would involve continued changes to our role and the services we provide. We are becoming a smaller council, and we continue to review our priorities to make sure our more limited resources are focused on our ‘core’ activities.


We are consulting the public on three topics:

1. The Council Budget and Savings Programme

The government has commenced a 4 year Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) which sets government departments’ resource budgets. This had been anticipated to accompany the Autumn Budget, however this has been delayed due to the pandemic leading to the likelihood of a one-year extension and increasing uncertainty for local authorities.  The funding received by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will determine the funding available to local authorities in the next financial year. 

At this stage in the council’s budget setting process, the level of funding to be made available by MHCLG is not yet known and major changes planned to the Local Government Finance System in 2021/22 have been delayed by MHCLG due to the pandemic. The council has made sensible assumptions based on the information available to us now whilst taking into account the current impact of COVID-19 being felt against council tax and business rates.

Taking into account these assumptions, the council is seeing its core deficit increase to £13.8m in 2021/22 which will be managed through using council reserves. The core deficit rises to £22.5m at 2022/23 and will need to be revisited once the outcome of the CSR and the local impact of the government’s changes to the Local Government Finance System is known for 2022/23 onwards.

Including spending on schools, the council is budgeting to spend £689m in 2021/22, of which central government is contributing £77.5m towards general services and a further £244.8m specifically towards meeting Schools’ expenditure. By 2023/24 the council will have delivered over £102m of savings to reduce cost pressures and keep the council’s spending within its available funding. 

However, the council’s medium term financial planning indicates that more savings are required over the forthcoming 4 years to keep pace with increasing cost pressures, and we would like public input on where we make these savings.

This is not an uncommon situation for a council to be faced with, and is one that this council has been adept at managing in recent years. Through financial planning over the medium term and effective management of its one-off reserves, the council has been able to develop a Transformation & Savings Programme that allows time for sustainable implementation and meaningful consultation, be that either internally with staff or externally with members of the public depending on the saving being proposed.

The council’s Cabinet approved a report in July 2018, available to view here, https://council.southglos.gov.uk/documents/s97852/TSPJulyCabinet%20Covering%20Report%202018%20FINAL.pdf which gave high level details of the transformation programmes to be taken forward by each department covering the proposals, consultation and decision making routes to be developed further.  This was subsequently updated annually with the latest iteration available to view here https://council.southglos.gov.uk/documents/s115108/Final%20Revenue%20Capital%20budget%20report%20-%20Council.pdf.

The key focus is to ensure the council’s medium term financial plan is sustainable through the development of various initiatives to deliver improved value for money and reduce the rate of forecast increase in demand, while as far as possible improving or maintaining services.

The table below, and linked here, shows the services across which the council spends its funding – both as gross expenditure (£689m in total) and as net budget i.e. taking into account income (£238.3m). The table below shows the current % of savings proposed to be delivered by each department, along with the % reduction delivered to date. They continue to be regularly reviewed and take account of what is being done in other local authorities across the country.

 Budget funding table

 
How the Council plans to fund its expenditure

Budget funding table2.jpg

2. Council Tax & Adult Social Care Precept

In 2016/17 the Government allowed local authorities with Adult Social Care responsibilities to raise an additional 2% council tax ’precept’ to support care for older people. This flexibility was subsequently increased to allow local authorities to increase the Adult Social Care Precept by up to 3% per annum, capped at 6% across 2017/18 to 2019/20. 

In February 2018 the Council approved its 2018/19 revenue budget, confirming a council tax increase of 2.99% along with the 3% precept for adult social care. It also approved outline budgets for the following three years (2019/20 to 2021/22) to help it plan for the future. These included planning assumptions for council tax to rise by 2.99% in 2019/20 and 1.99% thereafter, in line with indicative government referendum limits. No further increase was available at this stage to the Adult Social Precept.  The government’s Spending Round in September 2019 proposed a new increase to the adult social care precept of 2% in 2020/21, whilst retaining the core council tax limit at 2% in line with the council’s financial plans. 

The council is currently assuming the core council tax limit will remain at 2%, however, should the government allow a further flexibility then the council would be keen to utilise and protect the delivery of valued services.

The increase in council tax is subject to approval by Full Council in February, and the feedback we get from local residents through this consultation helps local Councillors make a final decision.

A rise of 1.99% in 2021/22 would contribute £3m towards local council services, and coupled with a 2% adult social care precept would contribute a further £3m. This would mean an increase of approximately £61.58 per year (or equivalent to £5.13 per month) for a band D household.

3. Potential schemes to support vulnerable residents

There is growing evidence that people are struggling financially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As applications to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme have increased compared to previous years, the council is considering ways to help its most vulnerable residents.

We would like to hear your views on two ideas. Firstly, whether residents would be willing to pay more Council Tax if the increase helped residents on low incomes.

Secondly, whether residents would support the introduction of a voluntary Community Contribution Scheme. A number of councils across the country have either introduced, or are considering introducing, a voluntary contribution scheme to fund residents’ priorities. The council has recently consulted on its Council Plan 2020-2024, and is considering opportunities for funding the arising ambitions. One of the four priorities which had strong support is ‘Creating the best start in life for our children and young people’.

The council is considering introducing a voluntary contribution scheme to provide additional funding towards this priority. If the decision is taken to progress with the scheme then there will be a further consultation on the detail of how the scheme will be operated.

Find out more and have your say

Freepost Plus RTXL-YHGY-GSYS
South Gloucestershire Council
Corporate Consultation Team
Council Offices
Badminton Road
Yate
BRISTOL
BS37 5AF

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Due to pressures on the postal system around Christmas please ensure any hard copy responses reach us by 12th December 2020.

Timeline

  • Opened
    12 Oct 2020 at 12:00
  • Closes
    3 Jan 2021 at 23:59

Details

Geographical area
  • Bitton and Oldland Common
  • Boyd Valley
  • Bradley Stoke North
  • Bradley Stoke South
  • Charfield
  • Charlton and Cribbs
  • Chipping Sodbury and Cotswold Edge
  • Dodington
  • Emersons Green
  • Filton
  • Frampton Cotterell
  • Frenchay and Downend
  • Hanham
  • Kingswood
  • Longwell Green
  • New Cheltenham
  • Parkwall and Warmley
  • Stoke Park and Cheswick
  • Patchway Coniston
  • Pilning and Severn Beach
  • Thornbury
  • Severn Vale
  • Staple Hill and Mangotsfield
  • Stoke Gifford
  • Winterbourne
  • Woodstock
  • Yate Central
  • Yate North
Marking a consultation as relevant to a particular audience indicates that it may be of special relevance to people within that group. It doesn't, however, mean that other groups wont find the consultation of interest - we welcome responses from everybody.
For example, education issues may be of particular interest to Parents & Guardians, and so will be shown to people searching the system for parenting issues, but the views of others (eg: Business, Faith Groups) are also relevant.
Target Audience
  • All residents