Barnsley Council has set out proposals for the 2021/22 budget, focusing on building a better future for communities and businesses, while protecting the most vulnerable residents of the borough.
The additional cost of dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, maintaining critical services, and the expected loss of income from council tax, business rates and other charges stand at an estimated £60 million, which the government has provided some funding towards, together with other recently announced grants.
Through the council’s history of good financial management, it’s anticipated that there will be a balanced budget by the end of the financial year. Services won’t be affected despite the funding gap of £14 million.
Key points from the proposed 2021/22 budget:
- The council is still able to deliver a balanced budget for 2021/22.
- £12 million of one-off funding to continue with the response and help the borough recover from the pandemic.
- Investment in key frontline services such as Adults and Children’s Social Care, Waste and Home to School transport to reflect the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
- £7 million of efficiency savings, looking at how services are transformed to meet residents’ needs. This will have no impact on the services residents receive.
- The budget proposals also include an increase in council tax by 2.9%. This breaks down to a 1.4% increase to help fund general services, such as bin collections, roads and our Area Councils, and a further 1.5% increase relating to the government’s Adult Social Care precept to support elderly and vulnerable residents.
The increase in council tax would mean that most households will pay on average an extra £0.64 per week, but this would raise an extra £3 million in revenue and help the council to continue to respond to the pandemic while protecting Barnsley’s essential services.
However, this year’s budget also provides further local council tax support to almost 15,000 eligible households. These households will receive an additional £125 reduction in their council tax bill resulting in a significant reduction when compared to last year’s bill.
Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “Over the last 12 months, the council and all our partners have done a fantastic job in supporting the borough.
“We've set out our budget proposals for the coming financial year. The good news is the council’s finances are in a very strong position, despite ten years of austerity. Through strong and effective management, particularly financial management, we’re in a good position as any council can be, to cope with the pandemic and the issues it throws at us.
“We have to make difficult decisions about how we deliver our services, and without further support from the government, this puts us in a challenging position. I want to reassure you that our priority remains to keep critical services running for our residents while protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
“We're continuously looking at the council's financial position as the data is frequently changing, but it's clear that this is a significant challenge for us, and it will have an immediate impact, as well as in years to come.
“We all want Barnsley to build back better and help communities move on from the pandemic. Barnsley’s 2030 vision and ambitions, which will launch later in the year, will focus on the next nine years to make the borough a place of possibilities.”
Key parts of the investment proposal are listed below, and a full list of them are available in the report.
- Further investments into our town centre and principal towns, such as Goldthorpe, including £16 million from the Future High Streets Fund to boost high streets across the borough.
- Glassworks town centre redevelopment is set to open in the Autumn of 2021.
- Investment set aside for a new youth zone.
- Investment in flood defences at Lang Avenue (and other areas prone to flooding are also under review).
- Share of £42.5 million with Sheffield City Region to support businesses through the pandemic and beyond.
- Investment into a new children’s residential care home.
- Investment in stronger transport links across the borough.
Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson for Core Services, added: "We have an excellent track record for sound financial management, and despite the pandemic's financial impact, we have achieved a balanced budget. This means we can explore a number of one-off and ongoing investments for the upcoming financial year.”
“We continue to look towards the future, and I want to reassure you that we will remain vigilant, prepared and we are firmly committed to maintaining services and supporting our communities and businesses as part of our borough's recovery.”
Barnsley Council's 2021-2022 budget proposals will be discussed at Cabinet on Wednesday 10 February 2021, before being presented to Full Council on Thursday 25 February 2021.