Councillors in Poole have agreed the Council’s budget for 2016/17, including an increase in Council Tax bills for Poole residents for the first time in six years.
The decision made at last night's Council Meeting means that the Council's element of Council Tax for 2016/17 is increased by 3.99%, which includes the 2% social care precept to support the increasing demand for adult social care services.
Council Tax in Poole has remained unchanged for the last six years and this increase, together with the additional precepts for police and fire services, sees the annual charge for council services on a Band D property in Poole increasing by £53.28 to £1,517.85.
Council Tax bills in Poole will still remain the lowest in Dorset for the 16th year in a row, despite a further reduction of £5.6 million in core government funding and increasing demand in services in particular for vulnerable children, adults and older people.
The Council’s budget for 2016/17:
• supports the delivery of the Council's priorities including the investment of an extra £4 million in services for the most vulnerable adults and children in our community
• continues to protect frontline services insofar as is possible
• manages a further £5.7 million cut in annual government funding to the Council
• manages a total cut of £26 million in annual government funding to the Council since 2011/12
• uses approximately £4.5 million from the Council’s reserves
• continues to have the lowest Council Tax in Dorset
• provides no increase in Members’ Allowances for 2016/17
Councillor May Haines, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, Borough of Poole, said: "Over the past six years the government has reduced its funding to the Council by approximately 71% and we have worked really hard to minimise this impact on front-line services. Despite this challenge, we are in a position to deliver a balanced budget, which has been achieved through careful financial planning, effective management of our resources and use of our limited reserves. However, for the first time in six years we have had to increase Council Tax, which includes the 2% social care precept to support the increasing demand on adult social care services.
“We want Poole to be a great place to live, learn, work, play and do business as well as a place where the most vulnerable people in our communities are looked after. Approximately 38% of our overall budget is spent on adult social care and the 2% social care levy will go some way to help fund this service.”
The Medium Term Financial Plan estimates the Council must save a further £12 million over the next three years, over and above the plans it has already made.
Councillor Janet Walton, Leader of the Council, said: "There is no question that the Council faces an unprecedented financial challenge in the future as central government funding for local services will cease by 2019. To meet this enormous challenge we are acting responsibly and preparing for the future by changing the way we work. We must live within our means and we can achieve this by becoming more entrepreneurial and more efficient in the way decisions are made and services delivered. We are continuing to look at cost cutting proposals, working more closely with partners to delivery joint services, generating new income streams and reviewing fees and charges.
“Some difficult decisions will have to be made over the next few years. Every effort will be made to deliver our priorities and to protect local services, but the scale of savings required will inevitably mean changes in the way services are delivered and some service reductions. We are all committed however to continue to do the best for Poole and its residents.”