Isle of Wight Council

25 Feb 2016

Budget and council tax set for 2016/17

The Isle of Wight Council set its budget, following a meeting of the Full Council last night (Wednesday). As hoped, the proposed budget options were agreed, which ultimately aim to continue to focus council resources in four key priority areas for the year ahead, with specific focus upon the need to uphold and maintain its statutory services.

An increase to the Isle of Wight Council’s element of the annual council tax bills, of 3.99 per cent, was also agreed. This excludes the precepts for town and parish councils and the police and crime commissioner for Hampshire. This is the maximum amount that the council is permitted to raise its council tax element by without holding a referendum. Usually, the maximum rise is set at 1.99 per cent, however, this year the government announced that councils could increase council tax by an additional two per cent to fund adult social care budgets. This will raise an additional £1.3 million for the Isle of Wight Council, however, the increased costs to the council for the same period are considerably in excess of this.

It means the Isle of Wight Council element of council tax for a band D property will increase to £1395.17 a year, an increase of £53.53 per year, or around £1.03 per week. Council tax contributes around 23 per cent of the council’s overall funding.

Leader of the council, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, said: “This is the most difficult budget this council has had to address and deal with for many years, certainly for longer than I have been in the chamber.

“Following the announcement of the draft local government financial settlement  in December, extensive representations and lobbying have taken place, and an extremely strong case has been put forward for additional resources. It is, therefore, bitterly disappointing that in the final settlement announced only two weeks ago the Island was offered not a penny more.

“The budget set was agreed on the basis that it is constructed to do the best possible in the circumstances, to save what we can while making the books balance, but also to provide us with time and sufficient security to enter into a process which, in a nutshell will decide whether this council stands or falls. We have considered the options very carefully to maintain what we can and minimise the pain to Island residents, while considering the impact on future of where we live.

“This year has proved really challenging and on the experience of this budget I would reiterate my belief that without significant government intervention it will be impossible for the council to set a budget in 2017 and to exist after that date.”

Full details of the budget and council tax proposals, which were adopted by Full Council, can be found at www.iwight.com/meetings   

In setting its budget for 2016/17, the Isle of Wight Council needed bridge a budget gap of a minimum of £16.753 million from its current spending plans to set a lawful and balanced budget. The previous budget gap of £17.386 million was reduced by £633,000 following the decision of Full Council on 20 January 2016 to implement changes to the on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme; details of which will be circulated with council tax bills in March.

Measures agreed in the council’s budget and plans, included the following:

  • Transfer where possible the freehold of all public conveniences to town and parish councils - or close and dispose, assuming no expenditure from 2017/18 onwards. Indications are positive that this will be undertaken, from all except one council, to date.
  • £40,000 of economic development funding will be put into grants to support Island based businesses starting up, and to provide specific grant funding for firms taking on apprentices.
  • Undertake to find alternative methods of service delivery in adult social care, to reflect actual need, including revised opening hours and staffing levels, and implement additional income through implementation of full financial assessments for chargeable services, in line with the Care Act and national benchmarking.
  • Review the most complex care packages, ensuring the whole circle of support is investigated and utilised; this may, in some cases, reduce the level of statutory social care input as alternative sources of care to meet need are identified in the family; local community and universal services already commissioned by the local authority.
  • Implement a ‘Shared Lives’ project, based on 30 cases where re-provision to family based care will be undertaken with individuals whose needs and outcomes suit the shared lives delivery method.
  • Find capital finance savings on the waste contract, and general contract savings within the highways PFI and other contracts.
  • Restructure the whole operating model of the council starting with reductions in staffing levels within back office functions, including revenues, benefits and contact centre teams.
  • Remove free travel for concessionary bus pass holder on the floating bridge.
  • Rationalise the council’s property portfolio and relocate staff as required.

The council has also agreed to use £4 million from its reserves and balances towards the savings in 2016/2017.

The council has also been required to issue a formal consultation notice in relation to potential job losses among its staff, as part of the savings proposals. Over the next few years the council is being pushed towards a far more streamlined staffing structure in order to meet the increasing pressure on budgets due to government reductions in funding.

The council awaits further details about a funding review by the government, which recognises its unique position as an Island, with increasing financial pressures due to high numbers of older residents, and the impact on its economic development potential due to being detached from the mainland.

Councillor Bacon added: “We are keen to meet with the secretary of state for local government to present our case for the Island as soon as possible.”

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Budget and council tax set for 2016/17
Budget and council tax set for 2016/17
Factfile
  • Council tax will rise by 3.99 per cent from April 2016.
 
Isle of Wight, UK