15 Feb 2016

Finance and Corporate Services

Bristol City Council sets its budget for the next year

Bristol City Council has confirmed its annual budget for the financial year 2016/17.

Included in the budget for the next financial year is £345.4m of funding to cover the cost of running day to day services plus £56m earmarked from the Housing Revenue Account for capital investment in new and existing council housing.

The meeting also confirmed the capital budget at £134m, to be spent on projects to improve infrastructure such as roads and buildings. 

Government grants for specific uses such as the Public Health Grant and Dedicated Schools Grant will generate further millions of pounds for investment by the council.

Following a seven hour debate on Mayor George Ferguson’s proposed budget, a number of amendments were discussed and voted upon by councillors. Nine amendments in total were agreed by majority vote:

* Raising council tax by 2% in addition to the originally proposed 1.95% (3.95% total), with the extra revenue dedicated to delivering adult social care in the city

* Including the building of a pool in East Bristol in Tier 1 of the Capital Programme

* Including the Hartcliffe Way Recycling Centre in Tier 1 of the Capital Programme and earmarking £250,000 to meet running costs

* Continuing the use of the Diamond Card by community transport groups

* One off payment to Community Action Support Services of £40,000 to fund small scale early intervention projects targeting primary school age children

* A £9m investment in a private housing development project aimed at providing affordable homes across the city

* Improvement of enforcing fly tipping, littering and dog fouling byelaws and offences by recruiting additional enforcement officers and providing the transport they need

* Provision of £10,000 to support Bristol Pride

* Investing £150,000 in the council’s Welfare Rights and Money Advice service

The meeting also agreed to earmark funding for a number of one off investments totaling just over £1m. These investments were subject to public consultation between November 2015 and January 2016 and saw over 1,600 responses online and via paper survey.

The projects identified for funding are:
Small grants totalling £250,000 for Early Years Children Centres
£50,000 for an  Ashton Gate rail station business case
£250,000 to establish an Employment Engagement Hub at Engine Shed
£500,000 towards a Bristol Aerospace Centre
£50,000 for the Campus Skate Park in Bishopsworth

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “It was an excellent budget debate with many constructive contributions from all parties and I am delighted to have returned a balanced budget. Despite continued reductions in central Government funding and growth in service demand, I am pleased that our enterprising management of the city’s finances has allowed us to continue investing in the city’s infrastructure and provide one off funding for a variety of projects across Bristol.

“This budget marks the final year of my three year financial plan to meet the demands of unprecedented reductions in Government funding. I have been determined throughout this time to ensure that many of the necessary savings have been met by working more efficiently and changing the way we deliver services and I remain determined to support the most vulnerable people in our city.

“I am particularly pleased to have been able to inject further money into early learning and the development of employment opportunities and skills, especially during Bristol’s Year of Learning.”

The council agreed a 3.95% increase in Council Tax costing just over £1 a week for the a Band D home.

The change in Council Tax is made up of a 1.95% increase to cover the rising costs of delivering services and a further 2% as part of the new adult social care precept. This charge, much like that of the Police and Fire Authority, is designed to be spent of a specific local service, in this case the delivery of adult social care services in Bristol. It is a new power for councils that was announced in the Government’s Autumn Statement in November 2015.

Councillor Geoff Gollop, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, added: “The setting of this year’s budget is a result of the hard work and support of many people within the organisation. I would like to thank all Council Officers involved in the process and my cabinet colleagues for their input and dedication. I also thank all Councillors who have been constructively involved in the budget process for their efforts and contribution. 
“The council has a duty to ensure that any budget that is put forward must be balanced and should be sensible, achievable and in the best interests of the public. I am pleased to see that our continued sound management of the city’s finances has resulted once again in a budget that fulfils this duty.”

The meeting was webcast live and is available to view in full at www.bristol.gov.uk/webcast