Wiltshire Council today agreed a budget which will prioritise vital frontline services and continue investment into key areas despite reductions in government funding.
The council currently spends almost £1bn each year on more than 350 services. Spending plans agreed today focus funding on the council’s key priorities to protect those who are most vulnerable, boost the local economy and empower and support communities to do more for themselves to help them to be even stronger and more resilient.
Members agreed to invest £131.5 million in capital projects focused on the local economy, building more homes, health and wellbeing centres and community hubs and road improvements.
£38.7 million will be invested in the economy and transport, £3.7 million in broadband, £6.4 million in campuses and community hubs and £40.9 million in housing. The ongoing commitment to invest in highways will see £24 million spent on road and bridges repair and maintenance in 2017/18. The budget also safeguards the commitment to Military Civilian Integration and creating and protecting jobs across the county.
There will also be an additional £150,000 allocated to area boards to use on pavement repair and creation. This can be used to target local schemes where repair is needed to improve the local environment.
This year the Government Settlement Funding Allocation to Wiltshire Council has been reduced by 17.6% from £86.71 million to £72.31 million.
To help continue to meet the business plan priorities and deliver services, particularly in adult social care, the council agreed to raise council tax by 1.99% and raise the Social Care Levy by 3%.
Despite these funding changes there is a projected shortfall in next year’s budget and savings of £13.331 million have been found in order to balance the books.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook, OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council said in a speech at full council today that the business plan set four years ago to protect those most vulnerable, boost the local economy and work closely with communities to encourage and enable them to do more for themselves had been the focus for the council and it had achieved a great deal.
She added: “We have faced challenges as a result of the reduction in funding from central government and the increasing demand for some of our key front line services; particularly adult care and children’s safeguarding and waste collection and disposal.
“We have learnt to drive an environment that encourages innovation and change as the norm, so that we can overcome these challenges and, wherever possible, maintain the services that really matter and make the difference that’s needed. We place people at the heart of all we do and together we take action to do what’s right for Wiltshire with the resources we have.
“Whilst there will be more challenges ahead – I know that this council is both well-equipped and ready to meet those challenges. And, to keep its focus on what really matters – the people that we serve.”
Over the last five years the council has had one of the lowest national increases in council tax and Wiltshire continues to have one of the lowest council taxes.
To read Baroness Scott’s speech in full go to http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/2017-budget-speech