Council focuses on the future with budget and Business Plan agreed
The council's budget for 2022/23 and its long-term strategic plan has been agreed
Wiltshire Council has had its 2022/23 budget and 10-year Business Plan approved, as it focuses on the future while maintaining a long-term strong financial footing.
At a meeting of Full Council on 15 February 2022, Wiltshire Council's 2022/23 budget proposals were formally approved.
The council's budget for the next financial year is just over £417m and will see the authority spending more than half of it, around £235m, on the key support and care provided to adults and children. Around £92m will be spent on the vital day-to-day services such as waste management, road maintenance, leisure and library services, as well as the council's carbon management and climate change work - which recently saw the council ranked as the fifth best unitary authority in the UK for its response to the global challenge. The council will also continue its commitment of spending £1m a year to support the county's high streets in its market towns and cathedral city, and is also investing £1.7m to increase capacity in its special educational needs and inclusion services.
The council's capital programme, which is spent on projects to improve and maintain the county's infrastructure is confirmed to be £307m in 2022/23. It will be spent on many different projects throughout the financial year, including leisure services, council house building, schools maintenance, footpath and highway improvements, and projects to improve the high streets of Salisbury and Trowbridge.
The council's Business Plan, which was also signed off at the Full Council meeting, will ensure that the its budget is spent strategically with a clear long-term focus. The plan outlines the council's guiding themes, which are prevention and early intervention; improving social mobility and tackling inequalities; understanding communities; and working together. The plan contains metrics throughout, ensuring the council can measure its performance and keep on track so it achieves what it has set out, and respond quickly to any challenges that may arise.
This type of strategic focus is essential due to the current financial challenges facing the public sector, which includes the ongoing pandemic, rising inflation, and increased demand for services. More than half of the council's budget comes from council tax, and at the meeting of Full Council the Wiltshire Council element of this was confirmed to rise by 1.99%, with an additional 1% directly supporting adult social care. For a Band D property, that's an increase of £47.56 annually or 91p per week. The council has put plans in place to make savings of around £25m in 2022/23 while limiting the impact of vital services as much as possible.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council said: "This is a hugely significant budget for Wiltshire. A budget that makes some difficult decisions now to set the Council on a stable financial footing for the next three years.
"It takes a long term strategic approach to the challenges we face and the work we need to do to transform the way we deliver adult social care, our high streets, the way we generate our energy and the way we protect our environment. A budget that will invest over a billion pounds in Wiltshire over the next eight years in housing, transport, schools and leisure. A budget set after significant consideration of the pressure we face and the options we have, a budget to control our costs and deliver a clear vision for the future of Wiltshire and the council focusing on making a positive difference in the long term.
"We, of course recognise, that this is a concerning time for residents, particularly with the cost of living on the rise, and we ourselves have had to make some tough decisions in setting the budget. But we firmly believe that, with our Business Plan principals right at the heart of everything we do as a council, we'll work side-by-side with our communities to keep Wiltshire the distinctive place it is, ensuring it remains somewhere that people want to live, work in and visit."