A new income stream to help fill the gap left by reduced government funding was given the go-ahead by North Somerset Council at its budget-setting meeting last night (Tuesday 20 February).
In setting the 2018/19 budget councillors approved:
- a 2.99% increase in council tax to help meet the increasing demand and cost of frontline council services
- an additional 3% adult social care precept proposed by the government to contribute towards meeting the growth and increasing costs of adult social care.
This means the average Band D council tax bill for council services in the coming year will be £1,341.61 – the second lowest charge in the South West.
Having already delivered £90m of revenue savings since 2010, the council is having to find further savings of over £11m in 2018/19.
The continuing fall of government funding, along with significant increases in demand for social care services, means it is also having to find alternative ways of raising money to fund local services.
At last night’s meeting approval was given for the council to acquire new premises in Weston-super-Mare as part of its commercial property investment and regeneration strategy. These premises will be purchased using a bank loan and generate a financial return to the council over and above the costs of borrowing, enabling much-needed resources to be redistributed to support the delivery of council services.
The purchase will be the first the council has made since councillors approved the creation of an Investment Fund and Property Investment Board in July last year. Since then, the council has appointed Montagu Evans LLP as its specialist property investment and asset management advisers, and they have brought forward a number of potential opportunities for the acquisition of property investments including the site approved last night.
Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of the Council, said: “This commercial approach on such a large scale is a departure from the council’s traditional income generation activities and reflects the changing nature of local government financing.
“If we are to continue to provide services to meet the needs of our local population, we have to find new, sizeable and sustainable income streams. We will soon have no funding from central government to put towards the costs of local services, and must therefore make commercial investment decisions as part of our income and regeneration strategy.”
The council expects to complete the property purchase by early March at which point further details will be made public about the site location, purchase price and indicative income.
Article provided by North Somerset Council