05 Feb 2020

Budget proposals announced

The Isle of Wight Council has set out its spending plans for the year ahead — with an extra £6.5 million set to be invested in vital frontline services protecting the young, the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.

In total, the proposed budget for the council could see more than £203 million spent on frontline services in 2020/21.
 
The authority already spends around £134,000 every single day on adult social care and housing and that is set to rise to £141,000 under ambitious budget proposals published today (Wednesday).

In children's services, a £1.7 million-plus funding boost will take spending from £67,000 each day to £72,000.

Alongside the extra resources for adult social care and children’s services, the council is having to propose £4.5 million of savings in 2020/21 to deliver a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement. Since 2011/12 government funding reductions have meant the council has had to find £82 million in savings.

Only seven per cent of the £4.5 million savings will come from service adjustments as the authority continues to make substantial and innovative efficiency savings and income generation to meet the target.

The budget will be partly-funded by a council tax increase of 1.99 per cent for general requirements plus two per cent specifically for adult social care, meaning an average band C council taxpayer will see their bill increase by £1.09 a week or £56.79 a year from April 2020.

"Not only have we balanced the books for the fourth year running, I'm delighted to say there's more positive news on the horizon,” said council leader, Dave Stewart.

"Thanks to our shrewd financial management and careful preservation of reserves, we're also able to reduce our savings' target by a total of £3 million over the following three years — and that's without an Island Deal from Boris!

"We've done all of this while continuing to deliver the services that our residents rely on, looking after the most vulnerable, keeping the Island moving and protecting and improving the environment.

"This year will see us open one of the most advanced waste management and recycling facilities in the country, bolstering our position close to the top ten per cent of areas in England for recycling rates.

"Also, let's not forget the Island has already received substantial funding from government including £48 million for our health service, £28 million for Island Line and £9.6 million for junction improvements in Newport.

"To that you can add £1 million from the Heritage High Street programme for Newport and Ryde, £6 million for our Better Care Fund and £288,700 to support rough sleepers on the Island announced just last week.

"This year residents will be pleased to hear that the proposals mean it won't cost them a penny more to visit the tip or travel on the floating bridge, and we propose maintaining free parking in Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor high streets to support the business community in those areas.

“However, as part of our ongoing review of parking, we are proposing to make charges fairer and simpler across the Island as well as introducing a £1 charge for 30 minutes' parking in Newport High Street to support businesses there.

"In addition, we’re working hard to invest in the Island’s future by securing the finale of the country’s biggest cycle race, the Tour of Britain, for 2021 which would bring a multi-million pound boost to the local economy. With SailGP set to return to Cowes this summer, we've got a lot to look forward to.”

The council has also unveiled a capital programme ambition of over £6.6 million of new investment, ranging from key road safety schemes to major investment in the council’s contact centre at Westridge.

It includes £1.7 million in improvement grants to help Island householders and tenants with disabilities to remain in their own homes.

The budget proposals to go before Cabinet members on 13 February and to Full Council on 26 February also provides for:

* a school bus seat for every eligible child to get to their nearest school, in line with the current policy - there will, however, be fewer 'privilege seats' (spare seats) available for purchase by non-eligible children;

* a new-look Local Council Tax Support Scheme which maintains the current 70 per cent council tax support for people on certain benefits and low incomes – with an estimated 765 residents due to see an increase in support;

* daily beach cleaning during school holidays and weekly cleans in term-time between 1 May and 30 September - ad hoc cleans will also still be available;

* the expansion of the hugely successful green waste collection service to 10,000 subscribers with fees rising by just 25p per week;

* further efficiency savings with £75,600 found by reducing long-term borrowing and £170,000 saved with the termination of the lease on Enterprise House, Newport.

Income generation proposals include additional money from Island leisure centres totalling £58,300, a ten per cent rise in berthing fees at Newport Harbour to raise £15,000 and a seven per cent increase in burial and cremation charges to help raise £105,000 towards the necessary savings.

Further budget efficiency savings are proposed in adult social care through a review of all care packages, the expansion of direct payments and more support to move people from residential care to independent supported living — something all studies show are better for the individual — and it will save the council over £1.5 million.

Deputy leader, Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, added: “The financial climate is difficult and we continue to make the unique case to government about extra funding that recognises our island status.

"In every discussion that has taken place we have been mindful of the impact that a cut in budgets would mean and we have tried to find a balanced and fair way to do this but, of course, there are areas where it has been tough to do so.

"We feel this budget continues to give protection and support for the most vulnerable and balances that need with ensuring we provide continued services for the hard-working taxpayers who fund what we do."

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Only seven per cent of the £4.5 million savings will come from service adjustments
Only seven per cent of the £4.5 million savings will come from service adjustments
Factfile
  • An average band C council taxpayer will see their bill increase by £1.09 a week or £56.79 a year from April 2020.
  • The authority already spends around £134,000 every single day on adult social care and housing and that is set to rise to £141,000.
  • In children's services, a £1.7 million-plus funding boost will take spending from £67,000 each day to £72,000.
 
Isle of Wight, UK