Southampton City Council approves budget for 2023/24
At a meeting of Southampton City Council’s Full Council on Wednesday 22 February 2023, a majority of councillors voted in favour of adopting the proposed budget for 2023/24
Additional costs and increased demand, particularly for adult and children’s social care have added a £33 million pressure to the already challenging budget situation. While the council has been able to put forward over £22 million of savings, a draw on reserves of almost £21 million has been required to ensure a balanced budget can be published for 2023/24.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Leader of Southampton City Council said:
“Against the backdrop of the national economic climate, Southampton City Council has had to take the tough but necessary decisions to protect services, tackle the cost of living crisis and deliver value for money for residents.
The cumulative impact of cuts to local authorities, increased interest rates and higher inflation has meant that Southampton faced a funding shortfall of £42m this year. Despite the scale of this challenge, I am pleased to report that the majority of our savings have come through efficiencies and making the council work more effectively. This is the only way that we have been able to deliver value for money and protect the frontline services that people are relying on now more than ever.
However, the current situation is unsustainable over the long-term. I, along with leaders of other local councils of different political colours such as Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, will therefore continue to lobby the Government to appropriately fund local authorities so we can continue to provide the services our residents rely on and deserve.
Despite this enormous national pressure, we remain ambitious for our city and will continue to focus on growth, jobs and investment, while delivering neighbourhoods to be proud of. That is the only way to create opportunities for all and take Southampton forwards.”
Savings and efficiencies of £22m
Savings of over £22 million are proposed in 2023/24. This is on top of the £84 million of savings the council has put forward since 2016/17. Over £20 million of these savings are being made through efficiencies and service improvements with just over £1 million from income generation.
Breakdown of Council Tax for 2023/24
In line with neighbouring councils, Southampton City Council will be increasing its part of Council Tax by 4.99%. For the average property in Southampton (Band B) this is equivalent to a weekly increase of:
- £1.23 (household)
- 92p (single person)
- 31p (C Tax support claimants)
The 4.99% consists of two separate charges
- The adult social care precept will increase by 2% - This money (approximately £2.2 million) is ringfenced for supporting adults in the social care system.
- The core Council Tax will increase by 2.99% - Generating approximately £3.3 million, this helps the council maintain the current levels of frontline services on which residents depend.
Council Tax Support Scheme
The council’s Council Tax support scheme provides support to around 20,000 Council Tax payers (worth around £15.9 million). In addition to the current support, the council will use £0.4 million of grant funding to provide an extra discount of up to £25 for Council Tax support claimants in 2023/24. A hardship fund of £0.34 million will also be available to provide additional targeted support, and the council is partnering with the Wessex Community Bank to offer more financial support to individuals and community groups.
Street lighting proposal
Turning off streetlights between 1am and 4am in certain areas in the city formed part of the proposals in this year’s budget consultation.
Neighbouring Local Authorities have already implemented similar schemes and 67% of budget consultation respondents were in support of Southampton adopting the same approach. Some national studies have shown that certain crimes actually reduce in residential areas where streetlights are turned off.
Turning off the lights will be implemented in a flexible way, allowing the council to react and make changes to the scheme as and when needed. This includes regular reviews, including taking into account any feedback on areas of particular concern for communities. The proposal will enable the council to make financial savings and offers the environmental benefit of a CO2 saving of at least approximately 162 tonnes.
The council has been working closely with a variety of stakeholders and is currently in the process of liaising with partners including the emergency services.
The following areas have been identified as exempt from this initiative:
- The city centre
- District and local shopping centres including those in Bitterne, Woolston, Portswood and Shirley
- The Classified Road network
- Main roads across the city (typically the roads in and out of residential areas and/or key bus routes)
- Key CCTV monitoring locations
- Areas of high public patronage such as hospitals and community hubs
- Known anti-social behaviour hotspots
- Certain streets due to traffic calming measures
- Roads on which there are high risks of traffic accidents
- Parks (where highway lighting extends to these areas)
- Safe routes home
- Lighting which is not on the public highway such as Council Housing and Leisure land.