Council approves 2020/21 budget; increasing investment for children, the vulnerable and our climate
This week councillors approved a budget of £468million for 2020/21, a net increase of £31million on 2019/20.
The approved budget ensures the council can go on tackling the effects of climate change, deliver new and improved facilities for children and family and significantly boost funds to help protect some of the most vulnerable in the county.
Key elements of the budget include:
- An initial £1million climate change Action Fund – building on the councils achievement of reducing its Co2 levels by 70% since 2006/07
- £1.325m for councillors to spend on roads and footpaths in their area
- An additional £12.9million going towards protecting the county’s vulnerable children
- Around £73.6m of capital investment for schools and children and family services, bringing the total expected capital investment to around £160m by 2023
- A further £49.8m has been allocated to deliver on the third year of the council’s £150m Your Highways programme
- In the region of £14.5m into Gloucester South West Bypass, Arle Court, M5 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 of more than £5.3m, which will significantly reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes in the county
- £3.1m to deliver Broadband across the county
- Ongoing investment of almost £5.0m ongoing into upgrade street lights and traffic signals
To help deliver the above and much more, funding of around £6.3m will be raised through a 1.99% increase in council tax. An additional £6.3m will also be raised by applying the national social care precept at 2%, to help manage the increase demand for adult care services and support people to remain independent for as long as possible. In total these changes would result in an increase of under £1 per week for the average Band D taxpayer.
The budget will also see the council continue to work more efficiently and effectively, allowing savings of £10m to be made next year.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “This is a budget that cements our commitment to go on tackling climate change, invests in vital frontline services to support the most vulnerable in society, will deliver new and improved school facilities, further develop our cycling network and continue our essential flood alleviation work. Investing in communities across the county is essential and as a result Cabinet doubled the amount available next year for local highways projects. This is in addition to our four year, £150m highways investment.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said: “As well as further enhancing the money available for councillors to invest in roads, pathways and cycleways in their local area I am pleased we got agreement for a study into the barriers people with a disability face when trying to get around our towns and city. We are also grateful that councillors saw the value in further investing in suicide prevention work. While disappointed that proposals to invest further money into sustainable transport and renewable energy were not supported, significant investment will be made in a range of services and I look forward to see the return on this investment for the people of Gloucestershire.”
Cllr Lesley Williams, Leader of the Labour Group said: “I am really pleased that some of our proposals, focussed on children in real need were accepted – the funding will mean that more young people will get some of the basic thing in life, that others take for granted. We must make sure that we continue to think about our role as councillors and how we can work as hard as possible for the good of all young people in the county.”
Cllr Rachel Smith, Leader of the Green Group said: “Libraries are a fantastic and relied upon service in communities across the county. I am therefore pleased that our pledge to increase funding for each of the eight communities libraries was passed. As a council we have a significant budget to invest in our county. So, whilst it is great that there is a dedicated fund to tackle the effects of climate change, this will only go some way to tackling the scale of the issue we face. I hope that further funding is forthcoming.”
Amendments to the budget that were agreed by council
A number of amendments were agree by councillors:
- £30,000 for a one off footways study to understand the barriers for people with a disability
- £265,000 increase to funding available for councillors to spend on roads and footpaths in their area.
- £50,000 to be spent on bus shelters
- £50,000 into the Traffic Regulation Order fund.
- £15,000 ongoing revenue budget for a Think Travel Coordinator.
- £50,000 for suicide prevention work.
- Continuation of one off £1,000 per member for youth work, totalling £53,000
- £10,000 for a one off scheme for period poverty
- £30,000 for the extended scheme for holiday hunger
- £20,000 to be spent on digital connectivity for care leavers.
- £20,000 to be spent on Driving Lessons for Care Leavers.
- A 25% increase to the grant for each of the eight community libraries, to £12,500