Council tax rise – just under 2 per cent?

The Bath Guildhall

Looks like we’re heading for a general council tax increase of just under two per cent as B&NES sets about the business of getting its intending spending budget scrutinised.

Major new investment in key priority areas including tackling the climate emergency and delivering more affordable housing will be examined closely by councillors as part of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s process to set its budget for the coming year.

The proposed spending plans will go before its Corporate Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel on Monday 3 February. The panel’s role is to comment on the proposals before they are finalised by cabinet and full council in February.

The report will update panel members on the council’s current financial situation and spending plans.  These proposals if adopted would result in a general council tax increase of 1.99%, which equates to an increase of £27.88 for a Band D property.

This would be in addition to the 1.99% increase in the social care precept, which is ring-fenced to support Adult Social Care services. This would also be equivalent to an increase of £27.88 per year on a Band D property.

Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “We look forward to receiving comments from the panel on the new administration’s proposed budget. The draft spending plans include major new investment to improve people’s lives through tackling the climate emergency, increasing the availability of affordable housing, developing low traffic neighbourhoods and supporting vulnerable people.

“I’m particularly pleased that the draft budget includes significant investment of almost £400k to tackle the climate and nature emergency, including a wide-ranging citizens engagement programme through which we will help the local community reach a consensus on the radical action that needs to be taken.”

The report sets out how the council plans to use the budget to invest in the commitments contained within its four-year Corporate Strategy.

The panel will receive an update on investment plans set out under the following headings in the Strategy:

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 to develop a citizens’ engagement programme
  • £25k to help retro-fit existing housing stock to improve energy efficiency

Delivering for local residents – investment plans include:

  • £42k to bring empty homes back into use
  • £119k to improve accountability, openness and engagement with local residents including extending webcasting
  • £100k for additional street cleaning and litter picking
  • £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:

  • £200k to support key transport projects such as low traffic neighbourhoods which give pedestrians and cyclists priority in residential areas
  • £2m to redevelop Bath Studio School to provide local specialist educational provision for children with autism and complex social, emotional mental health needs.
  • £250k to establish a permanent Heritage Collections Centre in which to house the council’s extensive, internationally significant collections

Areas identified where savings can be made or income generation improved, include:

  • £323k savings from purchasing efficiencies for specialist and complex needs care packages
  • £270k income from the council’s property development company
  • £900k growth in income from Heritage Services

Following the Corporate Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel the proposed budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 13 February. The final budget will then be considered at the full council meeting on Tuesday 25 February.

To view the report visit

https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=635&MId=5675