The Pandemic will continue to seriously impact our local council’s budget proposals for 2022 with a depressed High Street rents market and fall off in international tourism.
So residents are being invited to have their say on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s spending plans for the coming year at a special online Budget Forum.
The council faces a significant budget challenge for 2022/23 due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, an increase in demand for services, such as Children’s Social Care, recruitment and supply chain issues together with inflationary pressures.
During the online meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 14 December, the council’s Chief Finance Officer Andy Rothery, Chief Executive Will Godfrey and Councillor Richard Samuel, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Resources and Economic Development will outline the council’s current financial position, the ongoing financial pressures it faces and how its proposing to spend its limited resources. The meeting will be chaired by the Leader of the council, Councillor Kevin Guy.
Councillor Richard Samuel said: “By law we must live within our means and balance our books. We have a good track record of making savings while still providing value for money and delivering our priorities, but the pressures we currently face mean that this year the task will be challenging.
“Covid continues to affect our finances. Our income from Commercial Estate and Heritage Services has been severely impacted, resulting in an income budget reduction of circa £15m during 2021/22 while at the same time our costs went up with an increased demand for some services. But we’ve managed the crisis well, and despite having the fifth lowest Council Tax and Government Grant funding per resident of 150 councils, we have continued to deliver frontline services, helped people through the pandemic, invested in our priorities to improve people’s lives and replenished our reserves.
“Looking to the year ahead we’ve identified a budget gap of circa £15m. It means we are limited in our ability to take on new projects and spending and will have to make some hard choices about how we prioritise the money we have. We are rebasing our budgets to take into account current performance, have identified services where we need to address budget pressures and have drawn up options for savings and income generation with the least possible disruption to frontline services.
“But we want to know what people think. The Budget Forum is a key part of our budget setting process and is your chance to ask questions and have your say on our proposals.”
The Budget Forum will cover:
- Council Tax
- Demand pressures
- Income and savings proposals
- Investment plans
The council is proposing to set a budget of £134.3m.
This will include significant investment in Children’s and Adult Services –in education, increasing staffing levels to meet the demand for Children’s Services and funding care placements.
Additional funding would also be allocated to the Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services – expanding the council’s recycling teams to cope with the significant increase in kerbside and green waste being recycled by residents, and improving the pay of drivers, to increase retention amid the national HGV driver shortage and reduce the risk of missed collections.
The council has identified savings including efficiency savings in Adult Social Care and savings achieved through management of council vacancies.
Extra income is also predicted for the coming year – including increases in income from parking charges and the sale of recycled material.
Further information will be provided at the meeting.
How to get involved
The Zoom meeting will take place at 6pm on Tuesday 14 December. Please register to take part by visiting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
What happens next?
Following the Forum the council will draw up detailed budget proposals setting out its detailed spending plans for the year ahead.
These will be scrutinised by councillors at the council’s Policy Development and Scrutiny Panels on Monday 10 and Monday 31 January.
The proposals will then be considered by Cabinet on Thursday 10 February, with final decisions made at the Budget and Council Tax meeting on Tuesday 15 February.
Information about these meetings is listed on our calendar web page.