Investing in local priorities and freezing Council Tax amid tough financial circumstances
We announced today that Council Tax will be frozen across the borough for the next financial year despite the need to find around £37million in savings over the next four years.
This means that the charge for an average band D property will remain at its 2013 level of £1,379.65.
As a responsible council, tough decisions need to be made to address the inherited spending deficit. However, we will protect frontline services as much as we can and invest in local priorities, such as, but not limited to, policing, elderly care, road improvements and local businesses, in order to grow the borough during this time.
As part of our commitment to safer neighbourhoods, and to support local law and order, £1.2 million has been found to pay for extra police resources.
We've also said that:
- £1.2 million will be invested in older people’s residential care
- £1 million will fund programmes for people with learning disabilities
- Home Care will receive £800,000 of support
- Government funding of £795,000 is being used to support our implementation of the Care Act
We will also be investing in the Kingston Growth Agenda with £283,000 to be spent on support for the Kingston Futures project.
However, savings totalling over £13 million have been identified for the next four years with £8.6m being delivered in 2015/16 - leaving £24 million still to be found over the three years until 2018/19. Budget reductions have been identified in all service areas through re-commissioning, generating additional income and making efficiencies; including more than £3.5 million over four years to be delivered from our ‘back room’ or support services.
Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Council, said,
“All our budgets are under pressure and Kingston’s grant from Government has fallen by over 25 per cent in 2015/16 and will continue to fall in the future. When income falls that fast we need to make some tough decisions about our priorities. We will not shy away from these decisions, we will not kick issues into the long grass and we will explore all options that can be taken. The nature of such a massive funding gap is that decisions have to be made sooner rather than later but we will do this responsibly.
“However we have identified areas for further investment, including care for the elderly and prioritising money to support policing in the town centre, in our local neighbourhoods and across the borough.
“This is a budget for all of Kingston and an important first step in solving the long-term budget problems created by austerity."
The budget papers can be found amongst the agenda items for the Residents, Health and Care Services Committee on 4 February 2014.