Reductions in government funding has not stopped Wiltshire Council agreeing a budget prioritising vital front line services and continuing to invest in key areas, according to a council statement.
The council currently spends almost £1billion each year on more than 350 services. Key priorities now are to protect the most vulnerable, and boost the local economy. Communities will be empowered and supported to do more for themselves to help them become stronger and more resilient.
Main investment of £131.5million is focussed on capital projects in the local economy, building more homes, health and wellbeing centres and community hubs, and road improvements.
The economy and transport gets £38.7million and £3.7million goes into broadband expansion, £6.4million in campuses and community hubs and £40.9million in housing. Highways gets £24 million for road and bridges repair and maintenance in 2017/18. The budget has safeguards for what is called ‘military civilian integration’ and to create and protect jobs in the county.
Area boards get an additional £150,000 to use on pavement repair and creation, targeting local schemes where repair is needed to improve the local environment.
Government Settlement Funding Allocation to Wiltshire Council was reduced by 17.6% from £86.71 million to £72.31 million.
But council tax is to be raised by 1.99% and the Social Care Levy by 3%.
The shortfall in next year’s budget required savings of £13.331million to be found to balance the books.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook (pictured), OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council said in a speech at full council today that the business plan set four years ago to protect those most vulnerable, boost the local economy and work closely with communities to encourage and enable them to do more for themselves had been the focus for the council and it had achieved a great deal.
She added: “We have faced challenges as a result of the reduction in funding from central government and the increasing demand for some of our key front line services; particularly adult care and children’s safeguarding and waste collection and disposal.
“We have learnt to drive an environment that encourages innovation and change as the norm, so that we can overcome these challenges and, wherever possible, maintain the services that really matter and make the difference that’s needed. We place people at the heart of all we do and together we take action to do what’s right for Wiltshire with the resources we have.
“Whilst there will be more challenges ahead – I know that this council is both well-equipped and ready to meet those challenges. And, to keep its focus on what really matters – the people that we serve.”
Over the past five years, the council has had one of the lowest national increases in council tax and Wiltshire continues to have one of the lowest council taxes, according to the council.