Faced with a budget gap of more than £20 million - and uncertainty as to how much income the council will actually receive - Southampton City Council today announced a budget for 2013-14 which the leader described as “painful, but necessary”. Appendix 3 of the budget papers contains the details of the proposed savings. To view all of the papers attached to the budget papers visit our council papers page.
A combination of government funding cuts, increasing costs and growing demand means that service reductions are needed to balance the budget which will also see the council lose up to 279 full time equivalent jobs.
Library opening hours will be reduced, and charges will be introduced to bring residential parking in line with other local authorities. A children’s residential unit will close and youth services will stop.
Of the £18.1 million savings spelled out in the budget papers, almost half (£8,477,000) will come from efficiencies and income generation, but there will be service reductions across the board. The cuts are required to ensure that the council can balance the budget next February ahead of the new financial year that starts in April.
Southampton’s budget gap has been caused by the following factors:
• Reduction in government grant - by at least £9.2 million, possibly as much as £12 million
• Inflation and interest payments - £9 million
• Impact of one-off funds to balance 2012/13 budget - £6 million
• Other cost pressures - £5.7 million
• Cost of redundancy payouts in 2013/14 - £4 million
• Impact of accepting a one-off council tax freeze grant in 2012/13 - £2.1 million
• Cost of reinstating staff pay in 2013/14 - £0.6 million.
We have made some savings already, utilising one-off funding pots where it is sensible to do so and have made assumptions about the likely level of council tax increase which will all serve to reduce the original gap of more than £36 million by £16 million to around £20 million.
The savings have been made against an anticipated council tax increase of two per cent.
Among the savings that the council is making are: the sale of the mayoral car number plate; reduction in cabinet members by 25 per cent and the merging of two directorates (Adults and Children’s Services) under one director, saving £105,000.
A deal has been made with council contractors Capita to save £3.5 million in service costs in the coming financial year.
Councillor Simon Letts, cabinet member for resources, oversaw the budget and said the principles guiding the difficult decisions were trying to ensure that the council maintains services that protect vulnerable adults and children, focusing on making the council run efficiently to ensure that as many vital frontline services as possible are protected, doing everything possible to ensure that those in most poverty are protected, and meeting the council’s legal obligations.
Cllr Letts said: “No one gets into local politics to cut services and drafting this budget has been a painful process for my cabinet colleagues and for council officers. We have had to separate the ‘good to haves’ from the ‘absolutely necessary’ and we do feel that we have managed to protect services to the most vulnerable people in the city while making savings that will undoubtedly affect what the council can offer to the rest of us.
“Savings have to come from somewhere – but the purpose of the consultation is now to ask whether we have made the right choices, or perhaps there are money saving ideas out there that we haven’t considered. This is an opportunity for people to let us know if they have a better option to make the books balance.”
Councillor Richard Williams, leader of the council, is leading a campaign for better financial partnership between central and local government. He said: “We always knew this was going to be a tough budget but the government’s lack of communication or consistency on telling us the level of the reduction in our grant has made a difficult job near-impossible. We need to be able to plan ahead and make long term decisions in the best interests of the city.
“This budget is painful, but necessary. We have managed to safeguard the most essential services, increase income equitably and where reductions have to be made, they have been made with care and with regard to maintaining the best possible service for the most possible people.”
The budget was discussed at a special meeting of the council's cabinet on Tuesday 20 November at 5pm in the Council Chamber. The meeting papers, including the full budget proposals, are available on the
special cabinet meeting page. VIDEO
To give your feedback on the budget proposal visit our
Budget Consultation or download the consultation form below. PLEASE NOTE - the budget consultation is now closed (updated 13 February 2013).