New Somerset council budget
The budget for the first year of the new unitary council has been set with a spend of £491.37 million. This represents an increase in the total budget spend of the five councils merging to form the unitary. Originally it was expected that the unitary would save around £48m. In the event this first budget will see an increase in spend of £36m, an £84m turnaround.
That said, Portfolio Holder Liz Leyshon notes that savings have been made. Moving to a single council has seen £2.9m saved from senior manager costs and a £600,000 from reducing the number of councillors.
The Council is proposing to increase Council Tax by just under 5 percent. Given the current inflation rate of 9.3% for the year to November 2022, that may be seen as reasonable.
The council will take full advantage of the capped rises approved by Whitehall. This allows an increase of 2.99% in Council Tax and a further 2% social care levy.
Liz Leyshon adds: “This is an incredibly challenging time for most council budgets in the country but particularly so in Somerset, where we have been bringing together five council budgets into one. However, without the saving and efficiencies a new unitary council will bring, it would have been even more difficult to set a balanced budget for the next financial year.”
The proposals are set to be discussed by the Council’s Executive on Wednesday 18 January. They will then go for full council approval in February.