The Isle of Wight Council has to cut its budget by a further £4.5 million — either by making money or ‘doing things differently.’
It was announced at last Thursday’s meeting of the Isle of Wight Council cabinet that a further £4.5 million worth of savings would need to be made by the end of the next financial year — on top of £80 million in the past eight years.
Another council tax rise next year could be as high as four per cent.
Stewart: Same standard of services, but for less money
Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart said he hoped the same standard of services could be provided, but for less money, or more income could be generated.
“I think it is important people understand where we are as a local authority. It is very challenging — we are in an unpredictable situation, we don’t quite know what is going to happen.
“We have to find the money, one way or another, to balance the books.”
Hutchinson: Savings position is more difficult
Cllr Stuart Hutchinson, cabinet member for finance and resources, said:
“The savings position is more difficult as we run on a three-year rolling programme — we have evened out the overall savings and, over the three years, it amounts to £13.5 million, about 15 per cent more than we have saved already.
“This is why we are putting so much emphasis on generating additional income. We will be working in detail in the coming months on sorting out how we can manage our savings.”
Possible four per cent annual council tax increase
Cllr Hutchinson said the council was in an uncertain position regarding an anticipated annual council tax increase — which could go up by either two or four per cent. A final decision on the cap has yet to be made by the government.
The increase was previously capped at three per cent.
“The government has told us we are going to have a basic cap of two per cent, so we are going to lose £800,000 without blinking.
“However, there will be consultations on whether we can raise the rates by a further two per cent, purely for adult social care, where we have huge pressures because of the growing elderly population.
“So the rates will have a real impact on the kind of decision we have to make and the money we have available to spend.”
Cllr Hutchinson: “It’s the honest picture”
Responding to Cllr Hutchinson’s comments, Cllr Stewart said he was more optimistic than his fellow cabinet member, but admitted:
“It is the honest picture.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed