I spent this morning with students from Bedminster Down School. I was there to launch our budget simulator.
The cuts to local government, as well as financial mismanagement by the previous administration, mean that the council must find £108m of savings over the next five years to balance the budget.
This means service budgets will be affected again. If we increase Council Tax by 1.99% each year (the maximum possible without a referendum) and an additional 3% in 2018/19 for the Social Care Precept, we would increase the money we have available by £29m by 2022/23. This will contribute a significant amount to bridging our budget gap.
We have reviewed all of our spending pressures and changes in funding, and have identified ways to mitigate some demand and inflation pressures, to reduce the gap by a further £14m. This leaves us needing to find another £65m over the next five years.
The budget simulator give you an opportunity to get your hands on this challenge. It gives you a chance to engage in the sheer scale of the complexity of the situation.
You also have the opportunity to Tweet and Facebook your decisions. Doing so would certainly enhance the quality of our political debate. I look forward to your contributions.