2021/22 budget is approved
The budget was signed off at a meeting of Full Council on 23 February 2021, and the budget for 2020/21 was confirmed as balanced, despite the unprecedented challenges of the past year.
The proposals agreed include:
- A 1.99% general increase in basic council tax
- A 3% council tax levy specifically for Adult Social Care to address the £8.6m growth due to the increasing age demographic and needs of the residents of Wiltshire
- A £6.6m allocation for investment in Children's Social Care and a further £1.5m to respond to rising demand for special educational needs service
- Increase of investment in waste services by £2.6m to a total of £42.3m
- A six-fold increase in its discretionary hardship fund to £300k, held to assist those families and residents that, after undertaking all avenues of support to reduce their council tax bill, need further support from the council
- An investment of nearly £2m to help fund the planned £214m investment in its capital programme, which includes:
- Investing over £22m in maintaining Wiltshire's road network.
- Investing over £23m in schools, including the replacement of the lower block at Stonehenge School.
- Continued investment of over £20m in the council's Health & Wellbeing centre sites, including the significant investment in Melksham Community Campus
- Continued investment into carbon reduction initiatives, with £3m for the final transition to LED streetlights and more than £4m for energy efficiency projects for its buildings and estate
- Investment of over £50m in housing for Wiltshire, with around 1,000 new council houses provided over the next 10 years
Following the impact of the ongoing pandemic, towns throughout the county will need support to help them recover. The £4m fund set aside, made up of £1m a year for the next four years, will be set up to support market towns to bounce back. More details on how this funding will be distributed and its use will be available in due course.
The council estimates the direct impact felt from COVID-19 in the 2021/22 budgets for services will be around £5m, which mainly takes into account the loss of income from services such as leisure, libraries and car parking but does not include the loss of council tax.
Despite the challenges and uncertainty that lay ahead, the council's Cabinet is proposing a balanced budget in 2021/22.
The council will receive significant one off funding support from Government in 2021/22 in recognition of the ongoing response to the pandemic.
Conservative Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Finance, Procurement and Commercial Investment, said:
We are very pleased the budget has been agreed and our focus now is to ensure we give the county and its residents the best opportunities to recover from the pandemic.
Although it's been an uncertain financial time to say the least, our strong financial management, prudent planning and transparent way of working means we are still in a position to invest significantly in key services and programmes.
The effect of the pandemic will undoubtedly be felt for some time to come, but we'll continue to work hard and think innovatively and focus our resources in the right areas to ensure Wiltshire continues to be a great place to live, work and visit.
On its journey to being discussed and debated at Full Council, the budget was rigorously scrutinised by various groups, including members, group leaders, trade union representatives and the council's Overview and Scrutiny Management committee.
The budget reports and a replay of the Full Council meeting can be found at full council 23 February 2021 page