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Frontline services to be protected from council cuts

Frontline services to be protected from council cuts

Protecting frontline services is the priority for Bristol City Council, which will publish proposals to bridge a £19.5m budget gap next week.

6 January 2021

As councils up and down the country face unprecedented financial pressure, Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, has renewed his pledge to prevent cuts to services much valued by citizens.

Libraries, children’s centres and social care programmes such as Better Lives will all be protected from saving proposals. Instead improving how the council is run by reducing costs and creating greater efficiency are the focus for bridging the budget gap.

The scale of the financial challenge was announced in November and since then the council has worked hard to come up with savings proposals to mitigate it. During this time, it also received the annual determination of funding to local government which reduced the gap from £23.1m to £19.5m for 2022-23.

A raft of proposals will go to Bristol’s Cabinet Meeting on 18 January, the papers will be published next week (Monday 10 January). Cabinet will then make a recommendation to Full Council for the annual budget meeting in February.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “Every local authority in the country is facing the same problem as demands on public services grow, and available funding from central government shrinks. We promised to do all we could to prevent cuts to frontline services, and that’s why our savings proposals first and foremost are focused on reducing our own internal council management costs.

“Sound financial decision making to date has allowed us to keep libraries and children’s centres open, while they have closed in many other places facing the same pressures and we will continue our work to create a better, inclusive and more sustainable city for all. We are adamant that we will reduce costs from within, focusing council capacity on our priorities, and any other decisions will be rigorously assessed so we can be assured they do not disproportionally impact vulnerable citizens.

“At the same time, we appeal to Government to recognise that cities are underfunded. We have limited income – the vast majority of council tax is spent on social care services and the need for that is increasing exponentially. Unlike cities abroad, the UK has a centralised economy which means we rely on Government handouts and have very limited ways to generate our own income. This ultimately means we lack financial certainty and are unable to clearly plan for the longer term.

“Despite these challenges, we will continue to focus on building a city where nobody is left behind, has a modern mass transit network, affordable homes for all, the high-quality services our citizens expect, and at the same time, drives a diverse economy that provides jobs for all and tackles the climate and ecological emergencies.”

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