On Tuesday 18 January, Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney presented our budget to cabinet before it is taken to Full Council for approval. This is the speech he used to introduce it.
This budget protects Bristol’s libraries, children’s centres and social care programmes, such as Better Lives at Home. However, it is also very much a housing budget.
Our capital programme spends £10.8 million for housing delivery along with our housing company, Goram Homes, and this coming financial year there’s also £846,000 in revenue funding. The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget, also has substantial funding for houses and invests in the council’s existing stock.
Due to growing costs to services, the impact of the pandemic on revenues and government shortfall in funding for local government, we have a budget deficit of £19.5m for 2022 to 2023.
However, rather than cutting services we have focused this budget on improving how the council is run by reducing costs and creating greater efficiency are the focus for bridging the budget gap.
This report proposes a net general fund revenue budget in 2022 to 2023 of just over £431 million and to finance the budget outlined above savings and efficiencies of £17.9 million are identified for 2022 to 2023 and £34 million over the medium term, some of which will require further consultation and the council’s element of the council tax is proposed to increase next year by 2.99 per cent which includes the adult social care precept of 1 per cent.
While we understand the impact this has on households across the city we need to weigh up the balance of increases in council tax against continuation of vital services provided to our residents. Continuing to maintain our Council Tax Reduction Scheme makes sure that we continue to provide support to those who simply can’t afford to pay.
Sound financial decision-making to date has allowed us to keep libraries and children’s centres open, while they have closed in many other places facing the same pressures and we will continue our work to create a better, inclusive and more sustainable city for all. We are adamant that we will reduce costs from within, focusing council capacity on our priorities, and any other decisions will be rigorously assessed so we can be assured they do not disproportionally impact vulnerable citizens.
We continue to invest in Bristol through our capital programme, with over £1.9 billion planned over the next 10 years, particularly to help address the affordability and desperate need for housing and to drive forward inclusive economic recovery, and improve our transport networks, bridges, parks and harbour.
Our capital plans also include a £19 million Decarbonisation Fund to invest in our council buildings and vehicle fleet, as well as £97 million to make our council homes more energy efficient and to reduce carbon emissions. All part of our journey towards being carbon neutral.
Despite these challenges, we will continue to focus on building a city where nobody is left behind, has a modern mass transit network, affordable homes for all, the high-quality services our citizens expect, and at the same time, drives a diverse economy that provides jobs for all and tackles the climate and ecological emergencies.
Read more about our budget proposals for 22/23 here.