Council publishes budget for the future
When it meets on 16 December, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet will consider a draft budget for 2021/22 totalling more than £480 million, a net increase of over £12 million on 2020/21.
Investment of almost £10 million will go towards protecting the county’s vulnerable children, supporting the ongoing progress and improvements recognised by Ofsted Inspectors last month.
The budget report also sets aside more than £65 million of capital investment for schools and children’s services in 2021/22, bringing total expected capital investment to around £150 million by 2023.
A further £67 million in 2021/22 has been set aside for highways investment. This includes part of the Council’s commitment to spend £150m on the county’s roads over five years. In addition the capital programme also includes £249 million for the M5 Junction 10 Improvement Scheme.
Despite the extra investment, Gloucestershire County Council still expects to have one of the lowest council tax levels of any county council.
The council continues to challenge itself to work more efficiently and effectively and as a result has identified £7.6 million savings for next year, helping to meet increased demand and costs.
The draft budget proposes to raise in the region of £6m 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 2.76% to raise an additional £8.6m. In total these changes result in about a £5 monthly increase for the average Band D taxpayer.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “As we work to defeat Coronavirus, the county council must also keep an eye on the future. This budget invests in Gloucestershire’s future, with more support for children and young people, investment to deliver our zero carbon commitments, and infrastructure to support future homes and jobs. I am proud we are doing that whilst still delivering one of the lowest council tax levels of any county council in England.”
Some of the council’s key investments planned for next year include:
- £1m to make new school buildings carbon neutral
- £9.2m for a new special school
- £15m for the new secondary school in Cheltenham
- £11m for a new primary school in Bishops Cleeve
- £8.1m for improvements to the condition of school buildings and facilities across the county
- A further £4.9m towards delivery of the Gloucester South West Bypass
- £3m towards the £11.6m Cheltenham to Gloucester cycle route
- £11.3m towards M5 J10
- £2.7m investment in new and improved life-saving equipment for GFRS’ firefighters
- £1.8m to ensure delivering Broadband across the county
Gloucestershire County Council currently charges the third lowest council tax of any county council in England, including Fire and Rescue service costs, which are billed separately in some areas. Gloucestershire’s 2020 Band D of £1345 is £7 per year above the lowest county council, Lincolnshire. Whilst 2021 figures aren’t yet available, GCC expects to continue to be one of the lowest county councils.
Subject to cabinet approval, a consultation on the draft budget will run from 18 December 2020 – 15 January 2021.