2019-2020 budget

The budget for 2019-2020

The budget proposals for 2019-2020 were approved by our Cabinet and Full Council in February 2019. You can view the full budget details in the cabinet report.

Despite a challenging financial climate and extensive government cuts, we’ve achieved a balanced budget for 2019-20 through strong service and financial planning and efficiency processes.

In 2017, we presented a three-year financial plan which provided a financial platform up to 2020. This plan has helped prioritise resources in line with corporate priorities and to deliver improvement, growth and future sustainability. 2019-20 marks the final year of this three-year plan. However, there remains significant uncertainty beyond 2020 and we acknowledge that the next 12 months will be critical in planning for the future.

Despite the considerable financial pressures we’re under, it’s positive news that our proposals present a balanced budget for 2019-20. We’ve made tremendous progress over the last two years on our journey to improve, grow and change to become a modern sustainable future council and we’ve plans in place to maintain this momentum.

When we look beyond 2020, we’re faced with considerable financial uncertainty. The outlook for Local Government funding beyond 2020 remains unclear and the EU exit proposals bring further uncertainty to overall public finances. It’s not going to be easy - but what we can do is be vigilant, prepare for every financial scenario and manage our resources with the long term future in mind.

Take a look at our 2019-2020 budget summary for a quick overview of the budget and how this might affect you and your family.

Council tax

Since 2010, we’ve made budgeted savings of an estimated £107 million, including £5.8 million to be made during 2019-20. We’ve reduced the number of jobs across the council by nearly 40 per cent, with 36 potential job losses during 2019-20.

These cuts, combined with a growing demand on our services and rising inflation means the gap between the funding we receive and the cost of the services we deliver continues to widen. Despite our efforts to bridge this gap, the council’s component of council tax will increase by 4.49 per cent (this does not include the contribution paid to the police and fire services or parish council contributions). The 4.49 per cent increase includes a 2.99 per cent increase to help fund general services - such as bin collections, roads and our Area Council’s - and a 1.5 per cent increase ring-fenced for adult social care.

We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we’ve explored a number of options to keep council tax levels as low as possible. It’s important to emphasise that the funding we raise from council tax helps us to provide you with vital services but only contributes an element of the overall funding we need in order to deliver these services across the borough.

Facilitating and accelerating growth

We’ll continue to invest in those areas that help build and facilitate Barnsley’s economy. 2019-20 will see continued delivery of the town centre re-development programme, including starting phase two of The Glass Works, the completion and opening of Library @ the Lightbox and construction of Market Gate Bridge, making the town centre more accessible for all.

We plan to secure further Property Investment Funding to facilitate further commercial developments, bringing new job opportunities and inward investment to the area. We’ll build on our work to increase skills and employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities, such as the supported employment pilot that we’re currently rolling out.

We’ll provide more and better homes. We’re making significant investment in housing over the next few years, both in new housing and ensuring we make the best use of our existing housing stock. This includes implementing our empty homes strategy which will support owners of empty properties return these properties into use and thereby provide much-needed homes in the borough.

Early help

We'll continue our focus on early help providing assistance and intervention as soon as it’s needed. We'll develop a new integrated Affordable Warm Homes service which will tackle fuel poverty, excess winter deaths and cold homes. We’ll prioritise improving the support pathways we offer adolescents and implement our Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy to enable our young people to achieve their potential through an enhanced programme of early help and prevention.

Local devolution

2019-20 and beyond will see our ongoing work with area councils develop as we continue to build communities we can be proud of. During 2019-20 we will continue to roll-out the principal towns programme to improve local economies and help local high streets to thrive. We’ll continue to work in partnership with area councils to recruit foster carers, deliver borough-wide events and implement Town Spirit across the borough.

The 2019-2020 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 the ‘revenue budget’ and it’s used to pay for the day-to-day running costs of delivering our services - such as staffing, maintaining public buildings and general service running costs.

The ‘net’ revenue budget available to spend on services for 2019-20 is £169 million. This is funded from a combination of central (core) government grants, business rates and council tax. This is the amount of money available after contributions from our other income have been accounted for - such as council house rents, grant income received for specific purposes, client contributions and fees and charges.

Has the 2019-20 budget been cut?

Although we strive to be a self-sustainable organisation, it still remains the case that we rely heavily on government funding and grants.

Since 2010, we’ve suffered extensive reductions from the government year-on-year with our revenue support grant (RSG) reducing to date by an estimated £95 million – this is the equivalent of a 58 percent reduction in cash. However, because of the increasing cost of providing our services due to inflation and an increase in demand, we’ve had to make over £101 million in budget savings/cuts in services. In 2019-20, we have to make a further £6 million in savings to balance our budget.

Unfortunately, the outlook for local government funding beyond 2020 is even more uncertain as we await the outcome of several government reviews that will have a significant impact on the funding we receive and how we’ll receive it. Combined with this is the impact that the EU exit proposals may have on public finances and the way in which the government allocate funding.

Does the proposed 2019-20 budget balance?

Yes, the budget does balance. Providing we deliver 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 for 2019-20.

However, like we have mentioned, there is a great deal of financial uncertainty over the next few years and beyond. We’re preparing as well as we can for these uncertainties and the different scenarios we may face. We’ve updated our three year financial plan taking us up to 2021-22 which presents a balanced budget for the next two years. However, the position is constantly changing and our forecasts are based on many assumptions so it is critical that we remain vigilant, flexible and be prepared for all eventualities.

Beyond 2021-22, we’re currently estimating a relatively modest £5 million shortfall that will need to be met from budget savings. However, this remains extremely uncertain until the government confirms what funding will be available. Regardless of uncertainty, we’re already putting plans in place to meet this shortfall.

How will the proposed 2019-20 budget 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 to deliver a brighter future for Barnsley:

Council priorities

Proposed allocation of money (net) in millions:  

  • Communities £16.2 Million

Including customer services, parks, community safety, community health and area councils

  • People £75.5 Million

Including schools, children’s social care and safeguarding and adults social care

  • Place £37.8 Million

Including economic development, planning, neighbourhood services, housing, waste and highways

  • Public Health £2.7 Million

Including health protection, health improvement and regulatory services

  • Core £12.3 Million

Including central, core costs e.g. health and safety, housing benefits and human resources

  • Corporate costs £24.5 Million

Including non-service costs such as council borrowing costs to pay for capital investment and pension fund payments.

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 running costs.

In household terms, 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.

In household terms, capital money is used in the same way we may pay for a car or money saved up for home 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:

  • capital receipts from selling off assets e.g. land
  • specific grants to pay for specific schemes or initiatives
  • borrowing e.g. a loan
  • match funding/contribution from external parties
  • money set aside from reserves (underspends) from the revenue budget

We’ll continue to roll out our capital investment programme during 2019-20 – including further investment in the town centre redevelopment, new housing developments providing more affordable homes, various highway improvement schemes and further school expansions to accommodate our growing population.

We’ll continue our drive to invest in the borough's future with a proposed £41 million of new capital investment to be spent over the next three years through the ongoing roll-out of our capital investment programme.

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, growing demand on our services and inflation, the council’s component of your overall council tax bill will increase by 4.49 percent for 2019-20. 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 2019-20 is the same as the increase we needed to make in 2018-19 and remains lower than the increase made for 2017-18. It’s also important to remember that council tax only contributes towards a small proportion of the total amount of money we’ll spend delivering our services.

Does this proposed increase include Fire and Police services? 

No it doesn’t. The 4.49 per cent increase is just for the part of the council tax bill that’s paid to us for the services we deliver. We don’t pay for the Police and Fire Service out of our budget – they set their own council tax precept for the services they provide. This precept is paid over to the Police and Fire Authorities respectively.

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.

Don’t you need to hold a referendum to increase our council tax?

No, local authorities are allowed to raise council tax by up to 3 percent for core services without the need to hold a referendum. Any increase above 3 percent would require a referendum to be held.

In addition to this, in 2017-18, the government allowed additional flexibility to raise an adult social care precept equivalent to a 6 percent increase in council tax over the three year period from 2017 to 2020, with no single year increase being more than 3 percent.

In 2017-18, we raised a 3 percent adult social care precept, in 2018-19 we raised a 1.5 percent adult social care precept and therefore in 2019-20, a further 1.5 percent increase is bringing the total raised over the three year period to 6 percent.

What will the proposed 4.49 percent council tax increase mean to me and my family?

The financial impact of this proposed increase will depend on the housing band in which you live. The table below provides the total weekly, and annual increase based on your house band:

Band A- A B C D E F G H
Barnsley Council £824.14 £988.98 £1,153.81 £1,318.64 £1,483.48 £1,813.13 £2,142.80 £2,472.45 £2,966.96
South Yorkshire Fire Authority £40.63 £48.75 £56.88 £65.00 £73.13 £89.38 £105.63 £121.88 £146.26
South Yorkshire Police Authority £107.87 £129.44 £151.01 £172.59 £194.16 £237.31 £280.45 £323.60 £388.32
Total 2019/20 council tax £972.64 £1,167.17 £1,361.70 £1,556.23 £1,750.77 £2,139.82 £2,528.88 £2,917.93 £3,501.54
Total monthly charge £81.05 £97.26 £113.48 £129.69 £145.90 £178.32 £210.74 £243.16 £291.80
Total weekly charge £18.70 £22.45 £26.19 £29.93 £33.67 £41.15 £48.63 £56.11 £67.34

If you live in an area that has a Parish Council you may also have to pay an additional amount set by them which we collect on behalf of the individual parish precepts. This amount can be found on our council tax bands and charges web page.

Why are you proposing to increase council tax?

With further cuts from government funding and the ever growing pressures on our services particularly social care and annual inflation, we would have to cut vital services if we didn’t increase council tax as other forms of funding are simply not there.

It’s important to look at the bigger picture; the council tax income we receive only contributes towards around 18 percent of the overall gross cost of delivering our services. Our core statutory services are underfunded. Our spend, per head of the population, for both adults and children’s social care is one of the lowest when compared with our statistical neighbours.

The increase made to council tax has not been made lightly and we’ve considered many options to keep the council tax increase as low as possible. However, unfortunately we have not had much choice without having to make further cuts to the services we all need.

How will my 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 specifically to support the rising costs of adult social care.

The council tax you pay each year is used to help deliver services that you need.

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:

  1. General council tax - to spend on delivering day to day services                       
  2. Adult Social Care precept - ring-fenced to spend on adult social care    

The adult social care precept 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. The number of older people living in Barnsley continues 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.

When the government introduced the precept, they gave us the flexibility to increase council tax by 6 percent over the period 2017-2020. In 2017-18, we added 3 percent as part of the budget process which left a further 3 percent increase to be made over the next two years. In 2018-19, we decided to increase the contribution by 1.5 percent to spread the cost and reduce the immediate financial impact on our residents. As such, the remaining 1.5 percent increase has been made in 2019-20.  

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 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 to 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 educational 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 proposing to increase 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 we need to make to the vital services we deliver. The increase in council tax reflects the reduction in funding we receive and cuts to be made. Regardless of the increase in council tax, we still need to make almost £6 million in savings during 2019-20.

We’re working tirelessly to make our resources go further and lead to sustainable outcomes so we can be prepared for the further challenges we face - financially and in terms of the growing pressures and demands on our services. We’re trying to do more with less and focus on those areas with the biggest impact in the long run.

Instead of proposing to increase council tax, why don’t you use money from the reserves?

In household terms, reserves are similar to the money people save for one off events or if unexpected things were to happen - such as your boiler or car breaking down or if you’re unable to work because of illness, or if you are wanting to spend money on a large purchase like a holiday or home improvements.

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 2019-20 remains at £15 million – especially in light of the future uncertainty we face. This amount has also been agreed by our external auditors as being an appropriate level to help the council deal with any future potential risks that might occur.

Other available reserves are derived from selling assets (called capital receipts) or year-end underspends which generate ‘one-off’ pots of money. These reserves are not used to meet any short falls in the budget – they’re to be utilised for one off capital investment or priority investment schemes. Once these reserves have gone, they’ve gone and take time to replenish, so it’s really important that reserves are prioritised to either provide a return on our investment or to contribute towards supporting a service to achieve a sustainable position in the future.

How much does the council hold in reserve?

Other reserves we hold have been earmarked for specific purposes. We’re proposing to spend £41 million of reserves in 2019-20 on new investments - including housing growth and economic regeneration.  

Will any employees be affected by the budget proposals?

The savings we need to make this year will result in a reduction in our workforce but we will do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies.

There are 36 jobs at risk as part of the 2019-20 budget savings. 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?

The pay award comes from a national offer made by the National Employers for Local Government services on behalf of council employees. In other words, it’s set by Government - similar to the way other public services (police officers or nurses) receive pay rises. Their final offer included 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 to be awarded this year in April 2019.

How do we work out how much we pay our staff?

Our pay policy sets out the arrangements for salary and related allowances paid to employees.

It details the arrangements for the determination of salary, how those salary levels are determined, the method for pay progression and the payment of allowances.

You can also find details of the salaries and job titles of senior employees whose salary is more than £50,000 on the website.