Gloucestershire council cabinet to consider cash boost
12:54pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
MORE money to help homeowners get on the property ladder, cash to help businesses grow, a council tax freeze and further investment into adult and children’s services are being proposed as part of next year’s budget.
For the past few weeks, the council has been talking to residents asking them what they think our spending priorities should be.
Since cabinet approved the outline budget for consultation in December, which included a council tax freeze for the third year running, the council said it has been able to divert more cash into services that people said were a priority.
The council will receive £4.1million more than expected from its council tax base and this money is being used to invest in new schemes, boost existing services and help pay off debt.
The extra investment will:
• Provide a further £500,000 for adult services – this money will be used to improve existing services and extend successful programmes. Adult services is the only area of the council’s budget where spending has been protected year on year.
• Provide £200,000 for the next phase of the Local Authority Mortgage Scheme to help first time buyers who haven’t got deposits to buy a home. This takes the 2013/14 investment up to £1million and the overall figure to £2.2million since we started the scheme.
• Aim to deliver a £1.5 million pot of financial support for businesses through a £100,000 investment. The cash will be put into a Funding Circle, which will provide low-cost loans to local businesses which may not be able to secure finance otherwise.
• Provide £250,000 for a capital grants scheme for communities – one off grants scheme for community buildings to generate additional income and/or reduce costs. The cash could pay for refurbishments/repairs, equipment, accessibility, energy efficiency or renewable energy generation among other things.
• Invest £650,000 into transitional support for children’s services – this will pay for additional targeted support teams in locality offices, maintain funding for school intervention in maintained schools and address pressures on social care teams.
• Contribute £2.4million to cover inflation and to pay off some of the council’s debt.
Another significant change to the draft budget includes £21million, which the council has been granted to pay for Public Health services, which fall under its control from April this year.
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member for finance and change, said: “Despite the fact that we are tightening our belts and making savings wherever possible, I’m pleased that we have been able to make this extra investment.
“We’ve been working hard to meet our savings target and this forward planning means that when we receive additional funding like the extra £4.1million, we’re able to invest more into frontline services.
“People have told us that we need to protect our spending on services for the most vulnerable adults and children and that’s what we’ve tried to do.
“Supporting county businesses has been a top priority for the past 12 months and it’s great news that we can expand on this investment and continue to support our local economy in the year ahead.”
Funding from the government will reduce this year which means the council’s overall budget will drop by 3.6 per cent from £425million in 2012/13 to £409million (excluding public health) for 2013/14.
Since 2010, the council has been tightening its belt in preparation for continued reductions in government grants.
A savings target of £114million by 2014/15 was set in 2010. More than £65million has already been saved with the council on target to save more than £100million by the end of 2013/14.
Cabinet will now be asked to agree the proposed budget at its next meeting on February 6.
The recommendation will then be put before Full Council on February 20 for ratifying.