Proposed 2020/21 budget focuses funding on climate change and vulnerable children
When it meets on 20 December, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet will consider a draft budget for 2020/21 totalling £468million, a net increase of £31million on 2019/20. An initial £1million Action Fund will be set up to help tackle climate change and an additional £12.9million will go towards protecting the county’s vulnerable children.
The budget also sets aside more than £73.6m of capital investment for schools and children and family services, bringing total expected capital investment to around £160m by 2023.
A further £49.8m has been allocated to deliver the third year of the council’s £150m Your Highways programme. The first of almost £1m investment into flood alleviation schemes will be spent next year, significantly reducing the risk to almost 300 homes once all schemes are completed in 2023.
Despite the extra investment, Gloucestershire County Council still expects to have one of the ten lowest council tax levels of any county council, once the costs of delivering the Fire and Rescue are included.
The 2019 IMPOWER Index states that the county council continues to be one of the top 10 most productive councils in the country, and in the top three when it comes to productivity within adult services.
The council continues to challenge itself to work more efficiently and effectively and as a result has identified £9.58m savings for next year, helping to meet increased demand and costs.
The draft budget proposes to raise in the region of £6.3m to help fund services through a 1.99% increase in council tax. The council is also proposing to apply the national social care precept at 2% to raise an additional £6.3m to help manage the increase demand for adult care services. In total these changes result in an increase of under £1 per week for the average Band D taxpayer.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of the council said: “This budget sees significantly more money for the most vulnerable children and adults in Gloucestershire, whilst still charging one of the lowest council tax levels of any county.
“We are tackling the big issues facing us; fighting climate change, flood protection schemes, building new schools and improving the state of our roads. We’re not complacent – there is much still to do – but we are working hard, and working efficiently to deliver the priorities Gloucestershire people identified.”
Key investments planned for next year include:
- £73.6m for schools and children and family services, including £20m towards a £30m new secondary school in Cheltenham, £6.5m towards a new Special School , £3.2m towards the expansion of The Cotswold School, £6.2m towards increasing the number of primary school places in the Bishops Cleeve area and £2.5m towards the expansion of Leckhampton Primary School
- An additional £12.9m into children’s services
- In the region of £14.5m into Gloucester South West Bypass, Arle Court, Junction 11, Honeybourne cycle route extension, Gloucester to Quedgeley and Cheltenham to Bishop Cleeves cycle tracks.
- £1.5m to ensure GFRS’ firefighters have new and improved life saving equipment and to increase the services’ prevention and protection work
- £700k towards flood alleviation work. This forms part of investment over the coming years of more than £5.3m, which will significantly reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes in the county.
- £3.1m to ensure delivering Broadband across the county
- Almost £5.0m to upgrade street lights and traffic signals
- In excess of £500k for councillors to invest in their local area
Subject to cabinet approval, a consultation on the budget will run from 20 December 2019 – 17 January 2020.
Further information can be found online here.