Council tax could rise by four per cent in South Gloucestershire

Council tax could rise by four per cent in South Gloucestershire next year.

The local authority has released its draft budget for 2022/23 and its proposals factor in a 3.99 tax hike, comprising a 1.99 per cent general increase plus a two per cent precept to pay for spiralling adult social care costs due to rising demand.

Residents will be able to comment on the proposals in a 12-week public consultation starting on Monday (October 18), before the final budget is agreed by full council in February of next year.

READ MORE: Primary school ‘strapped for space’ needs cash to expand

Containing more detail than usual for this time of the year, the draft budget sets aside £112million for building projects and £731million for day-to-day services such as bin collections in 2022/23.

Spending promises include a £10million boost for children’s services over the next four years.

South Gloucestershire Council’s social care services for children were judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2016 and are yet to reach a rating of ‘good’, five years later.

The investment in children’s services includes a retention payment for social workers to address an “urgent and immediate need to stabilise the workforce”, according to the draft budget papers approved by the council’s Conservative ruling group on Monday (October 11).

The council has also promised its ‘community resilience fund’ will continue to help those most in need as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Building projects earmarked for capital investment in the draft budget include the completion of the Whitfield Tabernacle restoration in Kingswood and the replacement of Frenchay and Elm Park primary schools.

Cash to improve pedestrian, cycling and public rights of way links in the Emersons Green East area is also included in the proposals, along with funding for other projects linked to the climate and nature emergencies, such as decarbonising the way the council operates.

The draft budget also includes £19.7million in savings that the council hopes to achieve by 2025/26 through a mix of measures it says does not include cuts to frontline services.

The savings were identified in a major review of how the council operates.

Head of financial services Nina Philippidis said the review meant the council would no longer have to rely on its risk reserves to balance the books after 2024/25.

Council leader Toby Savage said it also meant the council was in a position to “achieve a level of transparency at this point of the budget cycle that this council has not been able to manage in any previous year since the council started”.

In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr Savage said: “The proposals in these budget papers outline in considerable detail how we will work to ensure that young people in South Gloucestershire get the best start in life; how we will work with communities, the voluntary sector and individuals to help them to help themselves to thrive; how we will promote sustainable, inclusive communities, supported by the infrastructure and growth they need; and how we will do this while continuing to demonstrate that we can deliver value for money.

“We aim to do all of this while tackling the biggest challenges of our time, namely responding to the climate and ecological emergencies and to playing our part in eliminating the inequality gaps that exist in our society, which were only highlighted further during the pandemic.”

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