The next year’s budget for the Isle of Wight Council is still not sorted with its deadline fast approaching — but council tax looks set to rise by four per cent.
The council’s 2020/2021 budget must be agreed in February at a meeting of Isle of Wight Council to leave enough time to implement the budget before the new financial year starts on 1st April.
Budget still not finalised
Cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson said at a meeting of the corporate scrutiny committee on Tuesday, that, due to a delay in government proceedings, the budget has not been finalised yet.
Fair Funding Review postponed
Following the postponement of the implementation of changes from the Fair Funding Review — a look at how local government funding is allocated and distributed between authorities — and business rate retention, question marks remain over the council’s final budget.
The Isle of Wight council were hoping to gain an extra £6.4m in the Fair Funding Review, with Isle of Wight Conservative MP Bob Seely stating in September last year that it was on its way.
Overspend down to £700k
A projected overspend of the £150m 2019/2020 budget has also added problems to the funding arrangements — however the council have been able to reduce its overspend to £700,000 from £1 million.
Cllr Hutchinson said it has been most unusual to have an overspend and was hopeful it could be further reduced.
“In previous years we have aimed to come in slightly under budget but I am pleased to say that because we are rigorously controlling our overspend we have been able to pull it down.”
Overspend to come from reserves
Any overspend left at the end of the council’s year, on 31st March, will be taken from reserves the council hold, Cllr Hutchinson confirmed.
“I do not have to tell you that it gets more and more difficult each year.”
Cllr Hutchinson also said it is a ‘really serious concern’ for him of where the council are going to find the required £4.5 million of savings for next year.
Brodie: Getting worse with “this clown in Downing St”
Cllr Geoff Brodie, an independent Labour councillor for Newport East, said he felt sorry for anyone who put themselves through working out the budget.
“This will be the tenth appalling budget round I have sat through.
“We are getting to around about £90 million taken out of local government on the Isle of Wight in the past ten years and with this clown in Downing Street, it is getting worse and worse and worse.”
An expected four per cent rise in council tax was recommended to be put to the council in February — with two per cent solely going towards adult social care — following a 2.99 per cent rise last year.