Council tax to increase for 'most exciting council budget in 18 years'
- Credit: Archant
Council tax in North Somerset is set to be increased again as the council prevents cuts to frontline services in its ‘most exciting budget in years’.
A 'sustainable, post-Covid budget' has been outlined with significant investments in adult social care and priority areas, though it is dependent on a 1.99 per cent increase to council tax in the district.
The council’s executive for finance and performance, councillor Ash Cartman, revealed the authority faced a £26million gap in its budget as a consequence of Covid-19, though the strain is now beginning to ease.
Cllr Cartman said: “This budget will set the course for an open, fair and green North Somerset.
“There are core themes to the finances which are; setting a responsible, prudent and sustainable budget; investing for our post-Covid future and retaining, protecting and improving our frontline services.
“With support from the Government and our officers we have managed to reduce the £26million gap and will be balancing the budget this year - which is great.”
Mr Cartman admitted that without the 'thousands of acts of kindness' from volunteers the authority would not be in the position it is where it can 'see the end'.
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As like many councils around the UK, North Somerset faces a rise in demands and costs which succeeds its income.
However, it has managed to commit to an additional growth provision of £2.5million for 'persistent issues'.
This will include £750,000 funding for children placements as well as £500,000 funds on both home school transport and adult social care.
A further £475,000 will be put towards legacy issues within the disabled children’s budgets.
Elsewhere, there is £7.5million worth of savings in the plans, though Cllr Cartman was proud to say the budget 'does not include a single cut to frontline services'.
In total, increased spending on adult social care will amount to just under £4.6million, £1.9million will be added to children’s services and the council will commit to £1.1million spending on 'priority areas to deliver impact and change within communities'.
Cllr Mark Canniford hailed the budget as 'the most exciting budget I have seen during my 18 years with the council' due to its Sovereign Shopping Centre plans and £700,000 investment into North Somerset's marine lakes across Weston, Portishead and Clevedon.
Around £1.25million will also be put into supporting the district's road networks.
However councillor Cartman was keen to point out the importance of a council tax increase to support the plans.
He added: “This is, given the circumstances, in line with the vast majority of councils across the UK.
"I think I have heard of two who have not gone with the same increase. The reason this has happened is because we face an uncertain future.
“We hold reserves and have been very careful that we have not run them down and will not run them down in this plan. But we will not hesitate to use them if we need to.”