‘Tough choices will have to be made’ Isle of Wight council bosses have said, as the plans for next year’s budget are announced.
Council tax will rise by at least 2.99 per cent as the authority looks to save a further £5.5 million in the coming year.
95% of savings will have ‘little or no impact’
Preliminary savings have been identified from all council services, with 95 per cent coming through efficiencies within the services — which the council have said will have ‘little or no impact’ — and five per cent in cuts.
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said challenging financial decisions will have to be made, as the authority hopes to save £16.5 million in savings over the next three years.
Council reserves now stand at just over £11 million.
Stewart: “Inappropriate” to use reserves
Cllr Stewart said he had ruled out dipping into reserves as they could only be used once, and it would be ‘inappropriate’ for them to be used on services needed year after year.
Council tax will rise to match inflation, however, deputy council leader and cabinet member for finance, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson, said he would not dismiss another rise if the government allowed it.
Rise for adult social care
Last year, an additional three per cent was allocated for adult social care.
Cllr Hutchinson said:
“If the government offered an additional rise, we would have to take it. Otherwise they could have said we don’t need any more money in the future.”
Privilege bus seats could be reduced as the authority reviews the service and looks to match demand with cost. The authority is only required to provide transport for students attending their nearest school.
The council will also be looking to make further savings by caring for the elderly in their own homes, rather than paying into care homes.
Cllr Stewart said:
“I don’t know of anyone who would not prefer to be in their own home. The idea is to provide more of a wrap around service than paying into these businesses.”
£1m less on Highway PFI
Additional savings will be made on the Highways PFI agreement, with changes to specification bringing in £1 million.
Investments in leisure centres has meant higher levels of demand and more income that anticipated, which will help alleviate some of the savings.
More parking fines
Residents could also face more parking fines, as a more consistent approach is taken to parking charges across the Island, especially in relation to on street parking and night time parking.
Investments made by the council now net them in the region of £1 million a year. A recent investment in Network Oxford is hoped to bring in an addition £150,000 in the 2019/20 budget.
By releasing plans for the budget four months ahead of schedule, Cllr Stewart said he would ask other political parties to come forward with ideas to help balance the books and protect and enhance council services.
Click on the full screen icon to see larger version
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed