New investment in key priority areas including tackling the climate emergency and delivering more affordable housing, will be considered by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet as part of its budget-setting process.
The council’s proposed spending plans and new Corporate Strategy will go before cabinet on Thursday 13 February. Once finalised by cabinet, they will be presented to full council on Tuesday 25 February.
The Corporate Strategy will guide the council’s decision-making over the next four years and help to make the council more accountable to the communities it serves. It outlines the council’s purpose, to improve people’s lives which will be driven by two core policies: tackling the climate and nature emergency and giving people a bigger say. The strategy also sets out the council’s commitments to prepare for the future, deliver for residents and focus on prevention. The council’s proposed budget has been designed to deliver on these commitments.
This will be the new administration’s first budget.
The council is proposing a general council tax increase of 1.99%, which equates to an increase of £27.88 for a Band D property. This will enable the authority to deliver a balanced budget and invest in services that matter to local people.
The increase is in addition to the 1.99% increase in the social care precept, which is ring-fenced to support Adult Social Care services. This is also equivalent to an increase of £ 27.88 per year on a Band D property. For a Band D property this will result in a council tax increase of £55.76 (3.98%) for services provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Adult Social Care Precept.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The council faces unprecedented financial and demand pressures and so we must prioritise what we spend and be clear about what we are here to deliver. In drawing up our proposed budget we’ve looked very carefully at our finances and listened to what local people have told us matters to them.
“We plan to invest almost £400k to address the climate emergency. Some of that money will be used to develop and run a wide-ranging citizens engagement programme which will enable the local community to reach a consensus on the radical action that needs to be taken to ensure Bath and North East Somerset achieves zero carbon emissions by 2030.
“The proposed budget will bring improvements to transport that will help with a major shift to walking, cycling, car sharing and the use of buses and other sustainable ways of getting around. There will also be more affordable housing, increased street cleaning and litter picking. Taken together our plans will provide a big boost to deliver our commitment to tackle the climate and nature emergency, including helping our area to become carbon neutral by 2030.”
The council’s spending plans are designed to kickstart delivery of the council’s Corporate Strategy.
The strategy sets out commitments under the following headings:
Preparing for the Future – investment plans include:
- £323k to provide ongoing leadership to the whole of Bath and North East Somerset to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030 plus an additional £64k boost in 2020/21
- £25k to improve guidance for residents on energy efficiency
Delivering for local residents – investment plans include:
- £42k to bring empty homes back into use
- £119k to improve communication and engagement with residents, including extending webcasting
- £30k to support research into the development of a sustainable Council House Building programme
- £100k for additional street cleaning and litter picking
- £140k for additional litter and fly tipping enforcement
- £25k for the inspection of food businesses
- £60k to support the council’s tree and woodland strategy and tree planting
Focussing on Prevention – investment plans include:
- £152k to support domestic violence and abuse services
- £100k to increase the number of Approved Mental Health Professionals
The council also proposes to spend £43.6m on new capital projects over the coming year including:
- £2m to redevelop Bath Studio School to provide local specialist educational provision for children with autism and complex social, emotional mental health needs.
- £325k in 2020/21 and a further £215 in future years to improve Youth Centres in Radstock, Bath and Southside in Whiteway
- £400k to repair and improve school buildings
- £1.1m to provide school places for children from new developments (Funded by CIL Levy)
- £50k for initial work to mitigate the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney Air Quality Management areas
- £200k to support projects such as low traffic neighbourhoods which prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in residential areas
- £300k to refurbish Bath Library
- £150k to provide a vehicle for additional winter gritting
- £250k in 2020/21 and £500k in future years to establish a permanent Heritage Collections Centre in which to house the council’s extensive, internationally significant collections
- £100k in 2020/21 and £830k in future years for the provision/refurbishment of play equipment in parks
- £60k for improvements to Haycombe Crematorium including direct access into the crematorium from the lower level.
- Additional £865k to support the council’s aim of delivering affordable housing and the recovery of empty properties
- £2.7m in 2020/21 and £8m in future years (subject to WECA grant awards) to improve infrastructure at the Somer Valley Employment Zone
- £2m for additional highways maintenance
- £0.6m in 2020/21 and £1.5m in 2021/22 to install protection measures in Bath city centre including vehicle access restrictions in York Street, Lower Borough Walls and Hot Bath Street
- £150k to deliver cycleways and footpaths across B&NES
Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “Our spending plans include major investment in our key priority areas such as tackling the climate emergency, increasing the availability of affordable housing, reducing congestion, encouraging sustainable transport and supporting vulnerable people.
“Our proposals also include allocating money to carry out reviews into the way we deliver some services, such as community care, to ensure we make best use of our resources and maintain a sustainable approach into the future.”
The council has identified a number of areas where savings can be made or income generation improved, including:
- £200k savings through efficiencies in IT contracts and Licences
- £323k savings from purchasing efficiencies for specialist and complex needs care packages
- £270k income from the council’s property development company
- £300k revenue from renting out surplus office space
- £70k growth in revenue from Business Rates in the Enterprise Area
- £900k growth in income from Heritage Services
Read more details about the budget proposals.
The proposed budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 13 February. The council’s final budget will then be considered by councillors at a full council meeting on Tuesday 25 February