This latest news in from the council. Ed
At its meeting on 9 February 2017, the Isle of Wight Council’s Executive will consider proposals for the council’s budget for 2017/18. The Full Council will then set the council’s budget at its meeting on 22 February 2017, where it will also set council tax for next year. Budget papers for discussion have been published today (1 February) (see below)
The proposals are based upon the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) that was agreed by Full Council in October 2016, with the ambition of protecting council services while balancing a need to reduce spending by £7.5 million during the year 2017/18. The strategy was designed to: ‘smooth out’ savings requirements over the medium term, protect the council from any ‘financial shocks’ in future years, enable ‘pump-priming’ of invest to save and transformational activities to occur as appropriate.
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Dave Stewart, said,
“I find myself in a very unexpected place in presenting this budget for consideration by the Executive and the Full Council. Having only become leader within the past fortnight, there has been little time for me and for my colleagues working together in our cross-party Executive to address the financial challenges facing the council.
“Our primary objective was to propose a legal and balanced budget, which we have done. We have approached the challenge in a professional and disciplined manner, ensuring that core services are protected and sustained wherever possible, while maximising opportunities for economic regeneration and growth.
“Much of what we have presented in the budget is based on the preparatory work of the previous Administration. Working with the council’s senior management team we have been able to interrogate and build on these foundations to present budget proposals which we believe is fair and which the Director of Finance has agreed are both legal and achievable.”
Need to make £7.5 million savings
Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, said:
“It is important that when next year’s budget is set, firstly that we meet the target of £7.5 million savings identified. However, importantly the council must continue to operate effectively.
“The budget proposals align with the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which received Full Council support in 2016. The strategy aims to ensure ongoing financial resilience for the organisation, with a focus on increasing the council’s income base and especially upon the future opportunities available to the Island through regeneration, alongside the development of effective local services and resource resilience.”
4.99% council tax rise
The Full Council will also set Council Tax for the Island when it meets later in February. The recommendation to Executive is for the Isle of Wight Council to raise its precept by the maximum 4.99 per cent.
1.99 per cent is the maximum level that council tax can be raised each year in line with the referendum threshold. However, an additional 3 per cent increase can also be made to take advantage of the flexibility offered by Government to implement a “Social Care Precept”; and that in accordance with the conditions of that flexibility; the full amount to be collected would directly fund adult social care provision on the Island.
The protection of vulnerable adults is a key priority for the council and also something that was found to be a high priority for residents during the recent budget consultation survey, ranking as the third highest priority, behind regeneration and children’s services. For the average council tax payer (band C property), this proposed increase is £1.19 per week.
Councillor Stewart, added:
“I am keen to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible services for the most vulnerable in our community and to continue to support those people who need to cross the Solent to access health care.
“However, this can only be achieved by taking full advantage of the option to have a 3 per cent council tax precept to fund adult social care. This challenge, having been made still harder by the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group withdrawing some £3.1m of social care funding by the end of 2017/18.”
The Executive will also consider the council’s capital programme which focuses upon creating a robust future service over the medium term, to enable increased efficiency within council services, ability to ‘invest to save’, and to support regeneration in the coming months and years.
Councillor Hutchinson, added:
“The MTFS and the capital funding available to the council collectively provide a significant opportunity to set the council on a secure footing for the future, ensuring that it has the capacity to transform and continue to deliver important services to our community.
“I and my colleagues in our cross-party Executive will not waste this opportunity, and the proposals in the budget paper ensure that we can take the fullest advantage of this opportunity for the council and the Island.”