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5 December 2013, 16:33 | Updated: 5 December 2013, 18:33
For the fourth year running, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet is proposing a council tax freeze as part of its budget plans.
The draft budget, published today (Thursday), outlines the proposed spending plans for 2014/15.
As well as the continued council tax freeze, there are planned investments into services for young people and families, while spending on adult services remains the highest portion of the budget.
One of the proposals being considered is the investment of £1.48 million over two years to set up a pilot social work scheme in Gloucester city.
The aim is to create a pioneering new model, which brings social workers, domestic violence support, drug and alcohol workers and health professionals together to provide a more holistic approach for local families.
Cabinet is also asking the council to continue its focus on keeping services local by giving each county councillor more of a say in how certain schemes are delivered.
Specifically, the budget proposes:
· To create a £2.65million sport and physical activity grants scheme, equally shared between the 53 local councillors over the next two years. The cash would provide sport or leisure facilities to encourage people to be more active within their local community
· To dedicate permanent funding of £1.06 million to continue the successful Highways Local scheme. The initiative allocates £20,000 per county councillor to be spent on highways works in their local community.
· To add to the £50,000 per district funding the council already allocates for youth facilities, by introducing a children and young people’s activity grant. This would provide £265,000 in total, allocating £5,000 per local councillor to be spent in their communities.
This is the fourth year of the council’s four-year savings programme Meeting the Challenge, which was launched in 2011 with a view to saving £114million.
The council is on target to make £100million savings by the end of 2013/14 financial year and 2014/15 will be the final year of the Meeting the Challenge programme.
However, it is clear that the financial situation is not likely to improve in years to come and the council is already planning ahead.
Funding from the government is decreasing year on year so the proposed budget is £423.14 million for 2014/15 – a £7.8million or 1.8% reduction in the 2013/14 budget.
The headline proposals for 2014/15 are currently:
· Adult services - £146million
(inc LD, older people, vulnerable adults)
· Children & Families – £93.7million
(inc schools, youth support, children’s centres, early years)
· Communities & Infrastructure - £85million
(inc highways, waste, trading standards, libraries, fire service)
· Public Health - £21.7million
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said:
“While we’re tightening our belts to meet our commitments, we know the people of Gloucestershire are in the same situation. That’s why for the fourth year running we’ve proposed a council tax freeze, which many other councils are understandably choosing not to do.
We’re proposing to invest into services for young people and continuing to prioritise our spending on adults and those who need our help the most.
We know going forward this will become even more important as budgets continue shrinking and we have more tough decisions to make.”
Cabinet will now be asked to agree the draft budget at its meeting on 11th December.
A public consultation has started and it will run for six weeks up to 16th January 2014.
People can comment online at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/budget2014 and questionnaires will be available at libraries and all other council buildings.
People can also call 01452 425000 to request a copy of the questionnaire to be posted out to them.
We will also be calling a random selection of 1,000 Gloucestershire households to ask for feedback as part of the consultation.
Cabinet will consider all of the feedback received and it will make its final budget recommendation on 5th February 2014.
Full Council will then be asked to agree the budget on 26th February 2014.