Council invites feedback on budget plans

Each year, all local authorities are required to publish a budget setting out how they will fund services. Whilst Winchester City Council set a ‘fully funded’ budget in February 20201, the impact of COVID-19 has seen significant additional costs as well as dramatic losses of income.

Whilst the council’s priorities set out in the April 2020 Council Plan remain unchanged2, the direct result of the impacts of the pandemic mean that they are forecasting a shortfall on next year’s budget of £3.7m.

On 16 December, the council’s Cabinet considered proposals for achieving a balanced budget for 2021/2022 and the council will consider and set the budget in February 2021.

The council is inviting local residents and businesses to comment on the proposals. A link to this consultation can be found here: https://www.winchester.gov.uk/about/financial-documents/budget-consultation

Councillor Neil Cutler, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Risk, said:

“Winchester City Council, like all local authorities, is facing significant budget pressures. Our budget for 2021/2022 assumes a potential reduction in income of 20%, but this could vary significantly depending on the pace of economic recovery and consumer confidence following the pandemic. This reduction in income will mean a c.£3m reduction in operating costs and the use of some reserves to balance the budget.

“With careful management, we will continue to deliver the priorities within our Council Plan, addressing the Climate Emergency, ensuring delivery of services and contributing to economic recovery.”

FOR INFORMATION

1.    The General Fund revenue budget totals £30m, which is funded by income from fees and charges for services, through the collection of Council Tax and through Government funding from grants and business rates. This income has reduced, and we have also incurred unforeseen expenses due to the necessary actions we have had to take to reduce the spread of the virus, leading to the shortfall.

2.    Winchester City Council – priorities set out in the 2020 Council Plan:

  • 1.    Declaring a Climate Emergency (council operations to be net carbon neutral by 2024, and to be a net carbon neutral district by 2030)
  • 2.    Ensuring a vibrant local economy
  • 3.    Providing Homes for all (building over 1000 Council homes by 2030)
  • 4.    Supporting communities to ‘live well’
  • 5.    Delivering high quality services