At the meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 1 March we will be setting the budget for the next financial year, 2017/18. In addition, we will be agreeing the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) up to 2020.
In a Nutshell:
The council tax for Solihull will rise by 4.99%. Most Local Authorities are setting this figure, which must be under 5% (however, your council tax bill will show the rise at 5%).
The increase in Solihull is in two parts:
- A Council Tax rise by 1.99%
- A precept of 3% to fund Adult Social Care pressures
Local Authorities had the cost of tackling adult social care moved onto them last year with the government allowing councils to raise a council tax precept (and additional and specific fund) by 6% over three years. In Solihull we aim to establish 3% precept in year 1 (2017/18) and the remaining two years will not have a precept in excess of 3% in total (it could be 1.5% in each of 2018/19 and 2019/20). My personal perspective is that government needs to fund this ever growing demand via national taxation.
We do though have to address this now and by establishing a 3% precept in year 1 allows an additional £0.906 million in 2017/18 which will be added to the adult social care budget.
Adult Social Care pressures:
These are becoming very difficult and a national strategy must be agreed. Here in Solihull we have an ageing population and funding pressures have been identified for the forthcoming years, rising from £4.1m next year to and additional £5.2m in year 2019/20 (see chart below):
Medium Term Financial Strategy:
In Solihull we have undertaken three-year budget planning for many years. This has been a great strategy and other councils are now having to follow this practice. It gives residents a view as to how council funding is collected and also disciplines the council tackle identified pressures. The draft MTFS can be read here: mtfs-and-efficiency-plan
Until last year pressures were funded by savings and efficiency within the council departments. Last year saw its first rise for six years and the MTFS has identified rises in subsequent years of 2%.
Savings have been an important part in reducing the burden on the council tax payer and these have been made through new ways of working, establishing efficiencies and staff losses. Although efficiencies are still being made it is really the case now that cuts are being made. There have been redundancies (and more will happen unfortunately) and staff who retired may not have been replaced. This is having an effect but our aim is to protect the elderly and vulnerable people and strive to maintain our excellent front line services.
To provide a flavour of savings been made/identified we can look at the proposals agreed at Full Council last year where a total of £35m accumulated savings were agreed up to 2019:
Funding Adult Social Care:
A detailed document about adult social care and the funding issues that affect local government can be read here: lga-adult-social-care This document was published by the Local Government association last November and is a good source to find out more detail. I have also added a hyperlink to the Guardian newspaper report which does mention cuts being made in councils to help pay for the adult social care gap – we are not immune to this here in Solihull: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/20/councils-preparing-cut-essential-services-fund-social-care-road-repair-parks-leisure-centres
Council Budget Documents:
I have posted here links to the council budget setting agenda where reports can be found: http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mgInternet/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=125&MId=5645
To help I have posted these reports here: