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Council sets budget and adopts corporate plan

by mikebell on 24 February, 2020

North Somerset Council agreed the budget for the year ahead at a meeting last week (Tuesday 18 February).

It will see a council tax rise of 1.99% in April in addition to a 2% levy the government has allowed local authorities to raise specifically to help fund the increasing costs and demand for adult social care.

It means the average Band D council tax bill for council services in the coming year will be £1,433.50.

The budget is designed to support delivery of the council’s objectives set out in its new corporate plan. The corporate plan, which was also agreed by councillors at tonight’s meeting, will guide the council’s activities over the next four years.

The budget reflects the council’s commitment to reducing the inequalities that exist in North Somerset. It includes changes to the council tax support scheme for residents on the lowest incomes to reduce the minimum contribution payable by 3%.

The council is also keen to recruit more local foster carers to look after the area’s vulnerable children and the budget includes an improved benefits and support package to retain existing carers and encourage new ones.

The year ahead will also see increased investment in early intervention and prevention services for children, changes to parking charges, investment in cultural development, a programme to bring empty retail units in Weston’s town centre back into use and changes to the garden waste service.

The budget will see finances dedicated to improving community engagement and consultation in council activities and resources allocated to tackling the climate emergency.

“We are committed to ensuring that our council is more open, fairer and greener and this budget reflects those ambitions,” said Cllr Don Davies, Leader of the Council.

“Financial austerity has not gone away and we are still facing tough choices. To balance the budget we have had to cover a £5m cut in funding from central government as well as £11m of extra cost pressures to deliver our existing services.

“However, we are determined to protect services wherever possible and narrow the gaps that exist between our residents who have the most and the least opportunity to thrive in North Somerset.

“We will continue to focus on maximising independence for vulnerable adults, early intervention and support for families and young people, encouraging active and healthy lifestyles for everyone.

“With further savings of over £18m still to be identified between 2021 and 2024 we will continue to look for more efficient methods of service delivery, making use of technology and systems and exploring opportunities for joint working with partners.”

Residents took the opportunity to comment on the budget and the corporate plan during a consultation process in December and January with around three-quarters of respondents agreeing that the council’s aims set out in the corporate plan were right for North Somerset.

A recording of the meeting is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IrpN3Iydfs

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