Agenda item

Wiltshire Council Financial Plan Update 2018/19

To consider the 2018/19 Budget proposals.


The report, budget book and fees and charges can be access via this link.


Some hard copies will be available at the meeting.


he Leader introduced the budget and outlined the challenges facing the Council and the need to address the £25m saving in the year. Additionally, mention was made of the need to meet increasing service demands in social care, and that the council would be seeking a 5.99% increase in council tax which included the 3% social care levy offered by government.


At the invitation of the Leader, Councillor Philip Whitehead, Cabinet Member for Finance, presented further detail, including: that the impact of savings should be lesser in subsequent years as the council’s finances became more sustainable; how the savings had been categorised and presented in the report; the Council’s developing approach to commercialisation and the intention that traded services should be offered at nil cost to the council as a minimum; how the digilisation programme was projected to save in areas such as customer service transactions.


The union representatives then had an opportunity to make statements and ask questions regarding the budget.


Matters highlighted in the course of the meeting included:


How reserves were presented in the budget and that the council expected to run a small surplus at the end of the year; how projected savings derived from transformation programmes were calculated and profiled; that details of the impact on staff teams could not be published as this would prejudice the requirement to properly consult with staff at risk; that officers were confident that the projected savings were robust, and that further work would be undertaken to detail plans to achieve them; that staff reductions would be focused on operational efficiencies and that the Council would be engaging with staff and unions first; that the council would normally prioritise reducing the where there are vacancies; that the number of staff redundancies would be low; that the Head of Finance, as the s151 officer, had to sign the budget off as robust and deliverable.


In answer to a question, Councillor Whitehead stated that the council was exploring options to reduce the amount of non-household waste taken to Household Recycling Centres, and that the Council would be mindful of the impact of any new process would have on staff. It was likely that additional focus would be required at sites near to neighbouring authorities.


In answer to a question, the Leader stated that some Council services, such as the Libraries, had been protected from reductions in service levels by supporting the professional officers to work with volunteers. Whilst volunteers were given access to proper training, it was recognised that the role of professional officers was respected.


In answer to a question, Councillor Whitehead stated that £3.5 million of the projected savings would be achieved through delivering on decisions already made by Cabinet, but that other decisions would not be implemented until the budget had been debated by Full Council and proper consultation undertaken.

There was broad support for the manner in which the council was attempting to protect base budgets and services by expanding the scope of commercial sectors such as school traded services. Specific commendation was made for the new traded services website.


The Leader thanked those for attendance for offering their views and questions.