The budget proposals for 2017-2020 were approved by our Cabinet and Full Council in February 2017.
You can view the full budget details in the Full Council report.
Our three year financial plan has helped us prepare for the £10 million further savings that we still need to implement over the next two years, which is on top of the £100 million savings already delivered since 2010.
Despite the very challenging financial climate, and due to forward planning, the budget shows that we’re in a strong financial position with a balanced budget for 2018/19.
We’ve had to make some difficult decisions on how we continue to deliver our services. Our planning and clear priorities have put us in this strong financial position for the next two years.
The key points from the budget include:
We’ve continued to redesign our services and we’ve become more efficient, but council tax is still an essential income for us and helps us to bridge the gaps in funding from central government. It helps us to deliver vital services such as emptying bins, health protection, schools and social care.
Increasing council tax is never an easy decision to make and we understand the affect that this has on our residents. In line with inflation, central government cuts and a growing demand on our vital services our share of council tax will increase by 4.49 percent for 2018/2019. This includes a general 2.99 percent increase and a 1.5 percent contribution for adult social care. This is lower than last year’s 4.9 percent increase and gives us a balanced budget. It’s important to add that this is the council’s section of council tax and doesn’t include any increases from South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.
Accelerating and facilitating growth
We have to continue to develop Barnsley as a place where people want to invest, live, work and visit. We’ll continue to invest in those areas that will help us to expand our economy, build more homes and create more and better jobs.
We want to continue our capital investment into our town centre redevelopment programme. The Glass Works, Market Gate Bridge and Library@thelightbox provide an exciting retail and leisure offer, with our famous markets at the heart of the development. The budget makes sure that investment focuses on boosting local high streets across the borough through the principal towns programme.
We also want to continue to create more affordable, better quality homes by investing in housing developments. We want to develop Met Homes Barnsley. This will help us to new build houses, including affordable houses, for private sale. Our Blenheim View housing development is a great example of how we’re making sure that there’s enough housing for our growing population and to help our economy to grow.
We want to help our residents to be more resilient, empowered, independent and to stay at home for longer. This is one of our key priorities and our All Age Early Help plan will help us to reduce high-cost support by tackling problems before they escalate.
We’re proud of the social care service we offer for children and young people. We’re continuing to invest in this area by creating an extra 14 full-time social workers, helping us to continue to prioritise the safeguarding and welfare of vulnerable children and young people.
We’ve already done a lot of work in updating our systems to empower people to be more for themselves through our digital services. We’ll continue to invest in this area and provide support for people to get online.
The 2018/19 Budget - everything you need to know
Where does the council’s money come from?
Every year, we set a budget for the coming financial year (April to March). The budget sets out how we’ll spend our money to provide a range of services to meet the needs of our residents - including schools, social care, planning, public health, bin collections and road maintenance.
We call this ‘revenue’ and it’s used to pay for the day-to-day running costs of delivering our services such as staffing, service running costs, maintaining public buildings, vehicles and offices.
The proposed ‘net’ revenue budget available to spend on services for 2018/19 is £168.988 million. This is funded from a combination of government grants, business rates and council tax.
This is the amount of money available after contributions from our income - such as council house rents, direct payments and fees and charges have been accounted for.
Has the 2018/19 budget been cut?
Although we strive to be a self-sustained organisation it remains the case that we rely heavily on government funding and grants.
We’ve suffered extensive reductions from the government year after year since 2010 with our revenue support grant (RSG) reducing by an estimated £79 million over the last seven years – this is the equivalent of a 46 percent reduction in cash!
Sadly, these cuts are set to continue with further savings of £10 million to be made over the next two years.
How will the money be spent?
The budget is allocated to help us make Barnsley an even better place to live, work and visit. All decisions on how to spend and allocate the budget are made with our residents in mind - making sure the work we do makes a real difference to you and your family, whilst also driving towards a sustainable future council.
The budget will be split between our five directorates and key service areas who are all working towards achieving our corporate priorities.
Allocation of money (net) in millions:
- Communities £17.717
Including customer services, parks, community safety, community health and area councils
- People £73.290
Including schools, adult social care, children’s social care and safeguarding
- Place £32.618
Including economic development, planning, employment, housing, waste and highways
- Public Health £1.699
Including health protection and health improvement
- Core £18.478
including central, core costs
- Corporate costs £25.186
including non-service costs such as council borrowing costs to pay for capital investment and provisions for uncertain events.
In addition to the revenue or day-to-day running costs, we also deliver a capital investment programme which prioritises our available resources to pay for one-off investments and schemes.
What’s the difference between revenue and capital spend?
Revenue is spent on the day-to-day running costs of delivering our services. This includes staffing costs, office and public building costs, maintenance costs. Revenue money is used in the same way we pay for our own day-to-day living costs such as food shopping, paying bills and fuel for our cars.
Capital funds are used to pay for the purchase or improvement of council assets used in the delivery of services. They are usually large in value and provide benefits over a longer period of time. This includes purchasing land, equipment, buildings and road improvements.
Where does money for the capital programme come from?
Capital funds are separate to our revenue budget and cannot be used to fund running costs. Capital funding can come from a number of sources including:
- receipts from selling off assets e.g. land
- specific grants to pay for specific schemes or initiatives
- match funding/contribution from external parties
- money set aside as reserve from the revenue budget
We’ll continue the roll out of our capital investment programme through 2018/19 - which is already delivering a number of approved schemes including the town centre redevelopment, housing developments providing more affordable homes, highway improvement schemes and further school expansions to accommodate more children.
We’ll continue our drive to invest in the borough's future spending a further £57.9 million of capital funding over the next two years. This includes additional funds to support the town centre redevelopment scheme, housing developments and the principle town’s initiative. A number of new prioritised schemes have also been approved including extension of the broadband scheme and investment in our IT infrastructure to improve our digital future.
Does the 2018/19 budget balance?
Yes, the books balance! Providing we fulfil our efficiency plans, manage demand for services effectively, receive government funding as expected and remain flexible and vigilant, we’re in a relatively stable financial position - with a balanced budget and certainty over our future funding through to 2019/20.
Is my council tax going to increase?
Despite efforts to bridge the gap in funding, due to the year on year cuts from central government and the growing demand on our services, the council’s component of your overall council tax bill will increase by 4.49 percent for 2018/19. This includes:
- 2.99% increase to help fund general services
- 1.5% increase ring-fenced for adult social care
We’d like to reassure our residents that this decision has not been taken lightly. We know that money is tight and a number of options have been explored to prevent our residents having to dig even deeper into their pockets and to minimise the impact it has on them.
The council tax increase for 2018/19 is lower than the increase for 2017/18 and still only contributes towards a small proportion of the total amount of money we’ll spend delivering our services.
In 2017/18, the government gave us flexibility to increase the adult social care component of council tax by 6 percent over the next three years. We added 3 percent in 2017/18’s budget leaving us with the option to increase it by a further 3 percent this year. However, we chose to increase it by 1.5 percent for 2018/19 to reduce the immediate financial impact it will have on our residents.
Does this increase include Fire and Police services?
No it doesn’t. The 4.49 percent increase is just for the part of the council tax bill that’s paid to us. We don’t pay for the Police and Fire Service out of our budget – they set their own amount for their services which goes directly to them.
If you live in an area that has a Parish Council, you may also have to pay an additional amount that is set by the Parish Council and added to your bill.
What will the 4.49 percent council tax increase mean to me and my family?
The financial impact of this increase will depend on the housing band in which you live. The table below provides the weekly and annual increase based on your house band:
|General increase||Adult social care precept||Cumulative increase||2018/19 total|
|Band||current annual charge||annual increase||weekly increase||annual increase||weekly increase||annual increase||weekly increase||annual cost||weekly cost|
Why do I have to pay for adult social care as part of my council tax?
The council tax you pay us consists of two parts:
- General council tax - to spend on delivering day to day services
- Adult Social Care precept - ring-fenced to spend on adult social care
The adult social care component was introduced by the government in 2017/18 to allow local authorities who provide social care to raise additional funds to spend on adult social care by setting a precept. The number of older people living in Barnsley is continuing to grow - it’s estimated that by 2020 our population of over 65’s will have increased by 11.3 percent. This puts a lot of pressure and demand on our social care services bringing with it a huge cost and impact on our budget.
We added a 3 percent precept in 2017/18’s budget and we’ll increase it by a further 1.5 percent for 2018/19. This increase reflects the continuing pressures we face and our priority to protect and care for our most vulnerable residents.
You and your family members may not need to use our adult social care services at the moment – but you may one day! It’s similar to paying National Insurance to support the NHS.
Why are we increasing council tax?
With further cuts from government and increased pressures on our services, if we didn’t increase council tax to reflect this, we’d have to cut vital services as the funding is simply not there.
If you look at the bigger picture, you’ll see that the council tax contributions we receive only contributes around 15 percent of the overall cost of delivering our services.
How will the council tax be spent?
The general council tax contribution helps meet the running costs of all the services we provide in the borough - such as schools, social care, maintaining roads, waste collection and recycling, libraries and health protection.
The adult social care precept contribution is ring fenced to support adult social care costs.
The council tax you pay each year is used to help deliver services that you need. Council tax is NOT used to pay for any one off capital investments – such as the town centre redevelopment or building new homes.
Why do I have to pay for services I don’t use?
Just like you may not feel it’s up to you to pay towards adult social care services, you may feel the same about other services that you don’t need or use. Lots of the services we provide are used daily or benefit everyone and without them the borough would grind to a halt - such as bin collections, maintaining roads and public health. Some services are used by fewer residents depending on personal circumstances - such as children’s social care, home support for the elderly and special education needs.
But, council tax is a bit like income tax – it’s not a charge for individual services and it would be impossible to tailor-make every households bill based on personal circumstances. Another thing to remember is that we never know what’s going to happen in the future and what help or support we may need.
If you’re increasing council tax, why can’t you deliver more services instead of asking us to do more for ourselves?
Whilst there are still a number of savings that need to be made, the increase in council tax will help protect and limit the cuts to the vital services that we deliver. We’re also investing more money in core areas - including the recruitment of 14 new social workers to reduce caseload demand on children’s services and investment in highways to help prioritise road improvements. We’re also investing in waste management and transport to reflect the increasing demand for these services.
Instead of increasing council tax, why don’t you use money from the reserves?
By law, all councils are required to hold a minimum reserve called a minimum working balance (MWB) which is calculated by determining the risks we may face. The MWB is intended to set aside enough resources to provide a backup or contingency in the event that any such risks become a reality.
Our MWB for 2018/19 remains at £15 million.
Other available reserves are already earmarked or approved to spend on priority investment schemes.
In household terms, reserves are similar to money saved for if something bad was to happen - such as your boiler or car breaking down or if you’re unable to work because of illness. Once these reserves have gone, they’ve gone and take time to replenish, so it’s really important that the reserves are prioritised and used to invest in the best ways possible that will hopefully get us through a difficult time or give us a return on our investment that can be reinvested in services.
Will any employees be affected?
The savings we need to make over the next two years will result in a reduction in our workforce. However, we will do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies.
The number of potential redundancies in 2018/19 is 18 jobs. However, workforce planning is an embedded part of our business planning process and as a result we’ve been able to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies by identifying voluntary redundancy and retirement opportunities.
Why are you proposing to give council staff a pay increase when funds have been cut?
Our proposal to implement a pay award comes from a national offer made by the National Employers for Local Government services on behalf of council employees or in other words its set by Government, similar to the way other public services (police officers or nurses) receive pay rises. Their final offer includes a 2 percent wage rise for 2018/19 for the majority of council and school support staff currently earning more than £19,430, and a further 2 percent in April 2019/20.
What does the future hold for the council’s budget?
As you’ve seen, we’re in relatively stable financial position up until 2020. Beyond 2020 we face a great deal of uncertainty which makes it incredibly difficult to make any firm plans. The economic impact of Brexit on the region and on our council are unknown.
However, we will begin to consider and plan for those areas where we have more clarity -such as migrant working and citizen rights. We’ll continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact of Brexit, plan for it and continue to drive forward future council plans to be a more sustainable council. We’ll also prioritise investments that put ourselves in a position to apply for future funding opportunities that may arise.