IOW COUNCIL LOOKING TO BALANCE 2016/17 BUDGET

Isle of Wight Council : Press Release : Release No: PR 7102

07 January 2016

For Immediate Release

COUNCIL LOOKING TO BALANCE 2016/17 BUDGET

In its forthcoming budget, the Isle of Wight Council must save £17.38 million , in order to match its spending to the money it will have available. Residents are being asked to give their thoughts on how this can be achieved.

The council has already saved around £50 million over the past five years due to continued reductions in government grants from the austerity agenda, and increasing demand/costs around key services, such as adult social care and children’s services.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: “This year is going to be the hardest year’s budget to set as the council is required to find even more savings on top of those already made.  We’ve made a huge number of internal savings already and are continuing to challenge staff across the council to reduce their overheads and generate  income streams, in order to protect front line services.

“We are also actively seeking alternative solutions to ensure that local services can be maintained and supported in the future, in line with local need. In addition to discussions around devolution of financial control from central government to a Combined Hampshire and Isle of Wight Authority , devolution of powers and responsibilities to Town and Parish Councils is being pursued as well as discussions taking place with  the government about opportunities for further support.

“There comes a time when tweaking internal processes can save no more money . I fear that that time may have come and radical and painful steps may now be the only option.”

The council provides a huge number of services locally; some must be provided by law and will continue to be undertaken (although perhaps in different ways) and some are discretionary, i.e. have been chosen to be undertaken in the past, but are not governed by law to be delivered.

The council’s budget consultation asks residents to feedback their views about what the council’s priorities should be when setting its budget for 2016/17; detailing the services they deem most vital to themselves and the Island.

Councillor Bacon continued: “This year we are using the You Choose online tool, so that our residents can understand and appreciate the difficulties that we have in setting a lawful and balanced budget.  Using the simulator, you can reduce spending and raise income from various areas, all the while endeavouring to keep Council Tax below four per cent.  It’s not easy.  We don’t have much money, so we need to ensure we spend it in the right places and raise income accordingly to ensure that good quality services can continue. 

We’re asking residents to put themselves in the council’s position and approach our budget as they would their own household budget.  If you want something, you sometimes find ingenious ways to pay for it which is what we are trying to do.”

A public meeting to discuss the budget takes place at 6.30pm on 25 January at Medina Theatre.

The budget consultation closes on 12 February 2016.  The Full Council will set the council’s budget for 2016/17 on 24 February 2016.

Take the survey here: www.iwight.com/budget

ENDS

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