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Published on Wednesday 21 February 2024

Supporting the most vulnerable, keeping communities clean and safe, protecting infrastructure and providing a sustainable financial future are at the heart of the balanced budget agreed by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council last night (20 February).

Councils in England face an unprecedented challenge caused by a reduction in funding for local government over the last decade, recent high inflation and exceptional and rising demand for public services.

BCP Council shares these challenges.

BCP Council’s budget for 2024/25 tackles these obstacles, protects core services and puts money aside to cover ongoing risks, while delivering more efficient ways of working.

Key achievements of this budget include:

  • Delivering a four-year balanced budget that provides financial certainty over the medium-term and avoids central government intervention
  • Closing a £44 million funding gap, which included a £30m structural gap resulting from the £30m one-off use of reserves in balancing the 2023/24 budget
  • Protecting core services, which are delivered to more than 400,000 residents across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  • Placing funds back into the community with a £320k ward improvement fund, providing funds to help every BCP councillor make a positive contribution to their area, in consultation with the people that live there
  • Reflecting feedback from residents and businesses gathered through the council’s budget consultation, where residents were asked which services they feel are most important; including protecting library services, safeguarding more day centres, reinstating grounds maintenance funds, protecting CCTV and confirmation of £360k in funding to revitalise all three of our town centres

In line with nearly all local authorities in England, Council Tax will be raised by 4.99% (made up of 2.99% for the basic Council Tax and 2% for the social care precept).

The 2% social care precept is a separate charge on Council Tax bills. The income generated from this charge can only be used to fund adult social care services.

This now puts a band D property’s 2024/25 bill at £1,767.22 from 1 April 2024.

Council Leader Vikki Slade said:

“During this financial crisis, the council has put the most vulnerable in our society first and protected the core services that they rely on.

“This budget will keep our communities clean and safe and maintain core infrastructure. It will add millions to our reserves, rather than raiding them, so that we can be protected from future financial shocks.

“Like all councils, we have faced some difficult choices and had some tough decisions to make. We’ve not shirked from that and we know this budget includes decisions that are hard for our residents to hear.

“But this budget means that BCP Council’s financial position is turning a corner and can focus on the priorities our residents have told us about.

“Residents’ feedback on the Council’s budget consultation late last year has been really useful in helping us to identify the priorities for our communities, and we have acted on the views of our residents to make changes around our spending on public protection, town centre investment, day services and more.

“Since this consultation, an incredible amount of work has been done by officers and councillors to get us to an approved, balanced budget that is financially sustainable, while reflecting residents and business’s priorities where we can. I want to thank them for their contributions.”

Cllr Mike Cox, BCP Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance said: “Our budget delivers a balanced budget for 2024/25 and Medium-Term Finance Plan for the next four years, to 2028.

“This budget adds millions of pounds to our reserves and will provide a platform from which BCP can thrive in the future.”

Council Tax bills will begin arriving through residents’ letterboxes in the coming weeks which includes a breakdown of how council tax is spent.

The 2024/25 budget was approved at a meeting of Full Council on 20 February 2024.

The full budget report can be found on the council’s website, along with a recording of the meeting: Welcome to BCP Council | BCP

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