Frequently asked questions - Budget 2019/20 - 2020/21

Southampton City Council draft budget proposals

Why does the Council have to set a budget?

Each year the council assesses the money that it has available, what it needs to deliver - including forecasting demand for services - and makes a plan for the year ahead. By law the council has to set a balanced budget and Council Tax levels every year.

What are the priority outcomes and how do we use them to set the budget to achieve them?

Our priority outcomes are the end results we want to achieve for local residents and the city. The council has agreed four priority outcomes:

  • Southampton is a city with strong, sustainable economic growth
  • Children in Southampton have a good start in life
  • People in Southampton live safe, healthy independent lives
  • Southampton is a modern, attractive city where people are proud to live and work

And, to achieve them, we need to be a modern, sustainable council.

As we did two years ago, we have taken an outcome based approach to planning and budgeting. Outcomes focus on why we are doing an activity, rather than the activity itself – so planning and budgeting for outcomes means we focus on what we are trying to achieve, and the impacts on residents, businesses and visitors, rather than products, systems or processes. To manage our resources effectively to deliver our priority outcomes, we have allocated resources against each of them, considered what is being achieved from the services provided and prioritised what makes the most difference to residents, customers and businesses.

Why is the council's budget reducing every year?

As a result of reductions in funding from central government, the council has made £136.4 million savings over the last seven years and we need to make another £15.05 million savings by 2020/21. Council Tax only covers 17% of our total expenditure (excluding the income we get from Housing Revenue Account and schools expenditure). The rest of our funding is made up of central Government grants and funding we win through bids to central Government and other funding bodies. The revenue support grant funding we receive from central government will be reduced by 54% over the medium term.

At the same time, demand for some of our more expensive services - especially services for vulnerable older people, children and young people - are increasing. This has resulted in a significant gap between the money we have and the cost of what we provide.

When did the council publish its draft budget?

The Cabinet published their initial draft budget proposals on 8 October 2018, which they discussed at their meeting on 16 October 2018 and agreed that public consultation should start on 24 October 2018. As well as the main budget consultation we will also be undertaking additional consultations relating to three specific budget proposals. These include:

  • Revising the Adult Social Care Charging policy
  • Future of two council owned residential care homes
  • Revising service charges for tenants (Housing Revenue Account)

How is the council going to try to reduce the impact of the proposals?

The council understands that there will be a significant number of people across the city who will be affected by these proposals. Equality and Safety Impact Assessments (ESIAs) have been developed for all proposals where there could be an impact on residents, and these set out the actions we will take to try and minimise any negative impacts, especially on vulnerable people. The council also produces a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) which looks at the combined impact of all the proposals. All these ESIAs are available online.

Who is being consulted?

Anyone who lives, works or has an interest in the city, if you are a user of one of our services, or a partner you can take part in the public consultation. You can complete the questionnaire as an individual, a representative of a group or organisation, or a member of staff.

What happens with the feedback I give?

Anyone who responds to the consultation in any way will have their views taken into consideration. At the end of the formal written consultation period all the comments and answers to questions will be pulled together and analysed. A comprehensive report will be produced that will show:

- Views of residents and stakeholders on the proposals
- Any alternative suggestions for savings that came out of the process
- Any impacts the proposals may have on residents and stakeholders that have been highlighted through the consultation period

This report is presented to the Cabinet and will inform their final decisions on the proposals and the budget. Any comments received after 2 January 2019 (the closing date for the main budget consultation) will be verbally updated at Cabinet and Council meetings on 19 and 20 February 2019, and will therefore not be in the report but will be considered before a final decision is made.

What is the process for setting the budget?

  • The draft budget proposals will be used as the basis for extensive consultation over the coming weeks
  • In order to inform the final budget proposals, the deadline for written feedback via the budget survey was 2 January 2019, the deadline for all feedback was 16 January 2019
  • Cabinet will receive a full report on feedback from the consultations, to inform their decision
  • The results of the four consultation exercises will be reported alongside the Cabinet’s final budget proposals. These will be presented to Cabinet on 19 February 2019 and Full Council on 20 February 2019
  • Full Council (all 48 city councillors) will then make the final decisions and set the budget and Council Tax

How can I have my say?

The budget consultations have now closed. The main consultation was open from 24 October 2018 until 2 January 2019. The three secondary consultations were open from 24 October 2018 until 16 January 2019.