14th February 2013

Bournemouth Council Tax 2013/14 bills frozen again with no cuts in frontline services

14th February 2013

Press Release - 12th February 2013

For the third year running, Bournemouth's Council Tax payers can expect no rise at all in their bills, as the Council's budget management strategy continues to see the authority through difficult times.

Dorset Police and Dorset Fire Authority are both increasing their charges, but the proposal, to be put to Bournemouth's Cabinet next Tuesday, 19th February, is made possible by a 0.7% reduction in Bournemouth Council's element of the 2013/14 Council Tax bill.

Councillor John Beesley, Leader of the Council explains: We are clear that our strategy and commitment to residents is to ensure that, whenever we can, Bournemouth's council tax payers do not suffer any increase in their Council Tax. This is particularly important at a time when fuel, food and other costs continue to rise, putting greater pressure on all householders in our community.

This is a budget for all Bournemouth residents; it recognises that households of all sizes and circumstances are being squeezed tighter and tighter by the economic climate, and it sets out our commitment to delivering improvements across the board, as well as ensuring no council tax bill increase to the people of Bournemouth.

It is unhelpful that funding pressures on Dorset Police and Dorset Fire Authority have led to precept rises by these public bodies for the next financial year. Despite this, I am pleased that we have been able to plan a budget that means Bournemouth residents see no rise in their overall Council Tax bills during 2013/14. This is despite the Council receiving 11.61% less government grant settlement for 2013/14 than we did in 2012/13 and in the context of an overall 27% grant reduction since 2011/12, with further cuts from Government to come next year.

Since 2007, this Council has adopted a proactive strategy of seeking efficiencies and delivering service improvements through innovation. We have been successful at this, saving over £35million from our base budget so far.

Our focus on securing additional grant funding has also paid off. We have achieved £44million of one-off government funding for specific projects for Bournemouth and the conurbation in 2012/13 alone.

This budget does not mean that frontline services or provision for the most vulnerable are at risk. In fact, quite the opposite. We continue to address the highest priority areas for our residents making Bournemouth safer, protecting vulnerable adults and children, and regenerating the borough's most deprived areas.

We have invested an extra £3.8million in adult social care since 2011/12, and are putting in a further £2million in 2013/14. Budgets for children's social care continue to respond to demand, with an additional £4.7million invested since 2010/11 and a further £4million allocated in 2013/14, expanding our adoption, fostering and children's social care work.

We are ambitious for our communities and determined to improve the quality of life for all Bournemouth residents. That is why we continue to invest in the local economy and the most deprived areas of our town in particular through our Backing Boscombe initiative, with work to regenerate communities in West Howe starting in earnest during 2013/14. Vital to this work is to address housing needs and create opportunities for the development of more housing that is affordable, as well as tackling poor quality private sector housing where it still exists, through an ambitious programme of HMO procurement and new-builds.

Furthermore, we will be putting more money into those programmes set up specifically to tackle residents' top priorities. Our investment and improvement programme which covers Road Rescue, Safer Communities, Smart Streets and Boosting Business - will see an additional £1.6million invested in 2013/14.

Next year, with the further reduction in government grant, we know we will need to make a further £10million of planned efficiencies and savings. However as the grant reductions are broadly in line with our Medium Term Financial Planning we feel well placed to meet the challenges ahead.

Our staff are committed to doing more with less resources and it is a credit to them that we are able to continue serving the people of Bournemouth well and without cuts to frontline services. I would like to thank them for their continued dedication and hard work.