The Isle of Wight Council has set its budget for 2019/20, with an emphasis on protecting all major services and investing in the Island’s future – but at a cost of a 2.99% rise for council tax and £5.5million in cuts.
Last night’s (Wednesday’s) meeting of the Full Council agreed the budget, which included a 2.99% rise in council tax – around 79p per week for a Band C property – from April. The council tax increase is one of several measures that ensures the council can live within its means.
£5.5 million has to be saved by the Council in the coming year, although just 5% will come from service cuts.
The council has proposed to invest £43 million for capital projects in 2019/20, including £25 million of approved borrowing to invest on the Island for regeneration schemes delivering housing and employment.
In addition, more than £4 million will be spent on school refurbishments and more than £1.5 million will be invested in adaptations for Islanders with disabilities so they can live in their own homes for longer.
Leader of the council, Councillor Dave Stewart, said:
“We took the bold step in publishing our budget plans four months ago to give people every opportunity to help us find the right balance between achieving the savings and securing revenue to invest in the Island’s future.
“While money remains tight and we’ve had to make very tough decisions, the impact is far less than last year because we are now far more innovative and efficient in how we deliver our services.
“We have a clear strategy to keep the council financially balanced and sustainable. As a result, we’re pleased to say we can reduce our savings target for next year by £1 million.
“We have listened to businesses and residents, including around parking, which will see some proposed price changes postponed for the next year to allow us time to develop a fair and consistent strategy that works for everyone on the Island.”
Councillor Stewart added:
“This budget continues to give protection and support for the most vulnerable and balances that need with ensuring we provide continued services for the hard-working taxpayers who fund what we do.
“It safeguards delivery of council services for the next three years – meeting our ambition of ensuring a long-term financial strategy, not just a short-term fix.”
The council’s net revenue budget in 2019/20 will be £150 million.
The budget was agreed by 25 votes to 14, with no abstentions.
As part of last night’s Full Council meeting, Cllr Whitehouse put forward a motion to look at how the Local Government Act affects the Island. As part of his motion he highlighted media spend, stating that the Council has spent almost £600,000 with 1 individual news outlet in just 5 years. A consultation will be launched to ascertain future avenues for the Council.