As the government is cutting £7.5 million in the next year from the council’s money, the proposals to ‘find savings’ in the next financial year will be debated and voted upon by 39 Isle of Wight councillors on 22nd February.
In summary proposals include:
- 4.99% rise in council tax
- Cuts to Personal Budgets for those with learning disabilities
- Youth provision budget slashed in half
- Reduced opening hours at the recycling centres
- Cuts to Family Centre budgets
- Increase charges on the Floating Bridge
- Rise in Lease and License charges
£60m of savings in last five years
Over the last five years the Isle of Wight Council has had to make a staggering £60,000,000 of savings due to cuts in Government funding and other “inflationary and unavoidable” cost pressures.
In addition, the council’s £145+m budget for 2016/17 is currently being forecasted to see a £750,000 overspend.
4.99% council tax increase
Budget savings of at least £7,500,000 pa over the next two years will lead to a number of job losses within the council.
In an attempt to offset some of the reduction in Government funding (£7.7m), Council Tax will be increased by 4.99% (1.99% general increase, plus 3% ring-fenced for Adult Social Care).
Of note, the total Council Tax income for 2017/18 is estimated to be £76,873,414.
Adult Social Care & Public Health portfolio
Nearly £3,500,000 is expected to be saved within the Adult Social Care & Public Health portfolio through cuts and changes service delivery.
As an example, £1,400,000 is expected to be saved each year in the next three years by reducing the personal budget allocation for existing users (approximately 320 service users). In addition, around 110 people with a physical disability (aged 18-64) will receive a reduction in their Direct Payments.
Resources & Children’s Services Portfolio
This area sees the second largest budget savings with an expected £2,225,500 pa savings for the next three years.
Changes include items such as savings of £587,000 by scrapping the empty property council tax discount.
Budgets for the provision of youth services is being slashed in half, with £192,000 being cut each year for the next three years. The IWC will expect an increased emphasis on targeted support, with providers demonstrating how they will work with the most vulnerable groups.
A 15% (£204,000) cut to the budgets for family centres will have to see a change to the way the service is delivered. The Home to School Transport contract will be rationalised (by £116,000 pa for next three years) seeing a necessary renegotiation with providers (Southern Vectis).
Funding for Adult & Community Learning and Schools Training will be scrapped to save £100,000pa. The service will have to rely solely on government funding and income raised from public.
Contract Management & Car Parking Portfolio
There are planned savings to the budget in the Contract Management & Car Parking Portfolio of almost £900,000.
There’ll be a reduction in the opening hours of Lynnbottom and Afton Recycling centres. The waste facility will close at 6pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter, as well as being closed one day a week.
Savings include the introduction of a £10 fee for the replacement of waste containers (bins) and £89,100 is expected to be raised by charging £55 pa fee for green waste collection.
Reducing PFI requirements
Nearly half a million pounds is planned to be cut from the budget each year for the next three years through a range of savings in the Highways PFI Contract. This would include reducing or removing lighting from areas such as cul-de-sacs and areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
More importantly however, the condition of Isle of Wight roads at the end of the contract will no longer have to meet the seven year life requirement and some roads will be maintained with “alternative but suitable surfaces”.
£40,000 will be saved by removing responsibility of soft landscaping from the Highways PFI Contract and transferring the Grounds Maintenance Contract, but with a reduced level of maintenance.
Environment, Fire & Local Engagement Portfolio
According to the budget papers moving the Fire Control from Surrey to Hampshire will save 100,000 each year for the next three years and £200,000 is expected to be saved in 2018/19 and 2019/20 by reviewing the Fire Service provision on the Isle of Wight.
Planning, Tourism, Recreation & Culture Portfolio
Changes to many aspects within the planning portfolio aim to save around £437,00 each year for the next three years and Islanders will see an increase in Leases and License charges.
Plans are also afoot to increase the foot passenger charges from the opening of the new floating bridge, increasing charges to £1 and £1.50. A review of leisure centre charges is expected see savings of £80,000.
General Reserves will be maintained at £5,000,000.