Council tax rise ahead

New investment to deliver new council homes, improved transport, better recycling facilities and cleaner streets are to be considered by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet as part of its budget-setting process.

The council’s proposed spending plans, drawn up following consultation with residents, go before cabinet on Thursday 10 February. Once finalised by cabinet the proposed budget will be presented to full Council on Tuesday 15 February.

The council is proposing a general council tax increase of 1.99%, which equates to an increase of £30.44 for a Band D property.  The increase is in addition to a 1% increase in the social care precept, which is ring-fenced to support Adult Social Care services. For a Band D property this would result in a below-inflation total annual increase of 2.99% or £45.73 (88p per week).

Councillor Richard Samuel, deputy leader and cabinet member for Economic Development and Resources said: “We do appreciate the impact the rising cost of living is having on residents, but the council is also continuing to face financial challenges due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, a loss of income, an increase in demand for services, particularly in Adult and Children’s Social Care, together with recruitment and supply chain issues and inflationary pressures.

“If we are to balance our books, protect frontline services and continue to invest in services that matter to local people, a council tax rise is inevitable but we have kept our increase below the current rate of inflation. We do, however, continue to have one of the lowest council tax rates of all unitary authorities in the South West and I believe we provide value for money.

The council is proposing to set a net revenue budget of  £126.74m.

It’s also proposing a new investment of £950k into neighbourhood services. This will enhance the council’s ability to clean streets, gullies and road signs more frequently in more areas. It will also enable the council to carry out more litter picks, remove graffiti quickly and regularly maintain road markings and pavements to improve the environment across our communities.  This is in addition to £455k revenue provision to further improve recycling.  

Over the next five years the council has made provision for £340m in capital investment to meet its priorities, with new additions in the 2022/23 budget including:

  • £11.7m to deliver new council homes alongside £5m for new affordable housing
  • £2m on transport improvements (£1.2m on the Transport Improvement Programme and £800k match funding towards CRSTS projects)
  • £4m to provide a SEND residential college at Bath College, Radstock
  • £7.8m to maintain roads
  • £500k to develop a business case and secure funding for a Collection Study Centre to safeguard Bath’s Fashion Museum collection
  • £750k to replace the roof of the Carswood Day Centre in Twerton
  • £750k to replace Keynsham’s Memorial Bridge. This is in addition to existing £2.2m plans for a new Somerdale Bridge.

Significant investment is also being planned to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency and help the district reach net zero by 2030 including:

  • An additional £9.2m for the Keynsham Recycling Hub at Pixash Lane. The uplift is required to align with current market prices in response to national increases in labour and material costs as a result of Covid-19 and to deliver the proposed development in full. It also ensures measures to tackle the climate and ecological emergency are retained as a priority, as well as compliance with planning consent.
  • £14.2m additional investment into waste modernisation to further enhance the council’s high levels of recycling. Public recycling facilities will be retained at Midland Road until a new permanent Household Waste Recycling Centre is developed and built in Bath. As part of Bath’s recycling provision, the council will develop plans for additional neighbourhood recycling sites within the city  
  • £201k to expand the council’s green vehicle fleet
  • £800k for Commercial Estate Refurbishment to address the repair backlog and plan for energy efficiency improvements. The council will also seek support from the West of England Combined Authority’s Green Recovery Fund support for this programme
  • £150k for Green Infrastructure including a Nature Recovery and Delivery Plan

£11.8m of savings and additional income streams have been identified, including:

  • £1.3m from maintaining a 2% vacancy rate across the council
  • £2m from reducing borrowing costs
  • £2m in efficiency savings and service transformation changes in adult social care 
  • £711k through a reduction in residential care placements and increased use of foster carers
  • £339k in increased income from sale of recyclables
  • £268k in increased income from garden waste collections

The council consulted residents asking for their views on the budget proposals. The main concerns raised were about the impact of the introduction of parking charges in Midsomer Norton and Radstock on local businesses and proposals to move some services to Bath Central Library.

The council has listened carefully to the feedback and has set out its interim responses in the report to cabinet. It will continue to listen to views, with final decisions made at the Council Budget and Council Tax meeting on 15 February.  

For more details about the budget proposals visit:  https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/documents/s70170/Budget%20and%20Council%20Tax%202022-23%20and%20Financial%20Outlook.pdf

To find out more about the background to the budget proposals, view the video of the Budget Forum on the council’s YouTube channel or watch its Budget Engagement PowerPoint presentation

The budget will be discussed at the following meetings:

Cabinet: Thursday 10 February at 6.30pm, Council Chamber, Guildhall, Bath

Council Budget & Council Tax meeting: – Tuesday 15 February at 6.30pm, Council Chamber, Guildhall, Bath

Information about these meetings can be found on the council’s calendar web page

The meetings will also be live-streamed on the council’s  YouTube channel