Mayor proposes budget to council to support Doncaster Covid recovery
Mayor Ros Jones today (8 February) launched his draft budget proposals for 2022/23 alongside the release of the council’s draft business plan. Together, these documents set out how the council plans to deliver services, support residents and businesses and achieve Doncaster’s ambitions.
Despite continued uncertainty around government funding and the ongoing response to the Covid pandemic, the proposals established a balanced budget while protecting the borough’s most vulnerable and providing resources to enhance opportunities. The council now has 28% less to spend on services in real terms than in 2010/11, creating challenges and representing a reduction of £335 per resident.
This budget provides sufficient resources to enable frontline services to continue to deliver their current service levels despite increased service pressures and rising inflation. Mayor Jones has also allocated an additional £750,000 for additional council apprenticeships that will target hard-to-fill roles. Covid has not gone away, the budget proposals ensure that specific resources are available for Covid infection control and prevention measures in 2022/23.
Some tough decisions have been made to balance the budget and close an overall recurring budget shortfall of £13.1m in 2022/23. Savings were necessary but, to the extent possible, they minimize the impact on service delivery. These savings will be achieved through new ways of working, deploying technology and generating additional revenue without negatively impacting essential services. Overall, these budget proposals close the budget gap of £21.7m over the 3 years.
In light of future pressures and risks, a council tax increase of 1.99% is proposed alongside a further 2.5% increase for adult welfare (4.49% in total) . The precept of adult social care is specifically used to contribute to additional funding pressures for adult social care.
Overall, this will increase Band A council tax by 83p per week and Band D by £1.25 per week. To offset the impact of this and help support hardship residents, the local council’s tax reduction scheme remains in place and is complemented by the introduction of a hardship support payment of up to £300 per household and per year. In addition, Local Assistance Scheme funds will be increased by £450,000 to provide a safety net for times of hardship faced by families.
Doncaster will continue to have the lowest council tax in South Yorkshire and one of the lowest overall compared to other similarly sized councils in the country.
The business plan sets out the council’s priorities and their contribution to the long-term partnership strategy, Doncaster Delivering Together. This year the council will continue to focus on fighting climate change by renovating homes and planting more trees, helping more people learn new skills and access good work opportunities, building new quality homes and reducing the impact of poverty in the borough by providing financial support. reaches those who need it most.
Mayor Jones said, “My goal continues to be to protect our most vulnerable residents and ensure our borough can thrive. We continue to face significant financial challenges, particularly in relation to social care for adults and children, but this is not unique to Doncaster, it is a national problem. With the government still uncertain about funding beyond next year, it is difficult to plan ahead.
“Fortunately, we are a financially well managed council and I will do all I can to mitigate the impacts of uncertainty. I remain firmly focused on supporting Doncaster’s priorities outlined in the business plan and ten-year strategy for the borough – Doncaster Delivering Together to create a safer, stronger, cleaner and greener Doncaster.
Mayor Jones added, “I want our borough, our communities and our individuals to thrive, so investment in our people and our place must continue, including investment in the apprenticeships I offer, which provide opportunities to equip individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge and behavior they need for specific job roles, future employment and progression.
An estimated capital investment of £386.9m is planned over the next four years, which will continue to drive growth and prosperity, with expenditure of £141.6m estimated for 2022/23.
The council invests in projects aimed at further improving basic services such as education, housing, infrastructure, recreation and culture, as well as attracting investors and visitors to the borough. This includes a £196.8 million investment in the council’s social housing stock over the next four years, covering maintenance, adaptations and the new building programme.
An additional £29.9m is proposed for continued investment over the next year in our leisure facilities, retained public buildings and fleet replacement, with the acquisition of electric vehicles being prioritized in wherever possible.
Mayor Jones has also allocated an additional £6m to improve the condition of our roads, with a focus on estate roads passed on a ‘worst first’ basis. This will also include £1million for road safety improvements.
The full list of investment proposals is included in the report.
The proposals also include a social housing rent increase of 4.1%, in line with the government’s social housing rent policy, which equates to an average weekly rent increase of £3.
The Mayor’s draft proposals will be reviewed by the Council Oversight and Review Management Committee on 10and February then Cabinet on the 16thand February before they are discussed in the plenary Council on 28and February. The proposals and draft business plan can be viewed on the council’s website via the cabinet agenda page.