Mayor Ros Jones has today (3 February) announced her draft budget proposals for 2020/21 which show how the council plans to manage its budget during the next financial year and beyond into 2023.
The proposals outline plans to cover the costs for growing demand for services as well as detail about investment in areas which need improvement.
Hard work, expertise and seven million pounds of unexpected one off funding from central government for social care (announced in the September spending round) have contributed towards the council presenting a balanced budget.
Despite the improved financial position in the short term, the proposals show that the journey ahead is still a challenging one with ambitious savings that need to be achieved to meet an overall budget gap of £17.7m over a three year period.
The majority of the savings will be delivered by continuing with the council’s current plans and ensuring that services are targeted and make a difference to those people who need them most.
The budget also includes an increase in council tax of 1.99% and a further 2% increase through the government’s social care precept. The adult social care precept generates £2.2 million which contributes towards the pressures for adults, health and wellbeing. The overall increase equates to an additional 69p per week for Band A properties and £1.04 per week for Band D properties.
Doncaster will still have one of the lowest council tax rates in the country (11th lowest in 2019/20) and the lowest in South Yorkshire.
The proposals also include the first council house rent increase in five years. The proposed 2.7% increase will be an average of £1.88 per week and is in line with the Government’s policy on rents for social housing.
Mayor Ros Jones said: “We are still feeling the effects of a decade of austerity and we still face more uncertainty hence our need to remain focused. In the past we have made difficult decisions about what services we can fund, whilst we continue to protect vulnerable people. It is clear that spending is becoming more narrowly focused on social care due to growing demand and this has left us with no choice but to apply the government’s 2% adult social care precept.
“As always we will protect jobs and frontline services where we can, help the vulnerable and wherever possible continue with the services that matter most to our residents.
“Our recent community engagement exercise, through Doncaster Talks, identified being a cleaner and greener borough as a key priority for the people of Doncaster so as part of my budget for 2020/21 I plan to allocate further financial resources to street cleansing, grounds maintenance and enforcement services. This will include investment in equipment, additional resources and improved methods of operation within services.”
The budget proposals are estimated to result in a reduction of full time equivalent posts. This is estimated to be 86 for the council and 15 for the Children’s Trust over a three year period (58 in 2020/21, 19 in 2021/22 and 24 in 2022/23). To achieve the savings, the council will initially look to delete vacant posts, then seek volunteers, then redeployment with compulsory redundancy being the last resort.
Despite the challenging budget situation, the Mayor has made it clear that the council must remain focused on Doncaster’s ambitions, with over £300 million capital spend planned over the next four years.
Through this investment residents across the Doncaster borough will benefit from projects to further improve education, housing, infrastructure, retail, leisure and culture, as well as attracting investors and visitors.
2020 will see the completion of the new central library and museum and delivery of the new cinema with six screens and five family restaurants. The cinema alone will provide 102 new jobs, adding to local employment opportunities for Doncaster and enhancing the Civic and Cultural Quarter leisure offer.
The proposals also include a four year investment programme in council housing, which will see over £135 million invested in the council’s social housing stock. This will include maintenance, adaptations and the start of a 10 year new build programme.
It is estimated that 560 new homes will be built over 10 years with an overall budget of £100 million. This investment will be the largest council house investment in Doncaster for many years.
The Mayor’s draft proposals will be considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on 6 February and Cabinet on 11 February before they are discussed at Full Council on March 5 2020.
The proposals can be viewed on the council website via the cabinet meeting agenda page
- Category: Council & democracy