At a Full Council meeting yesterday (15 February) Wiltshire Council approved its 2022/23 budget and 10-year Business Plan which includes a council tax increase of nearly 3 per cent.
Council tax is set to rise by 1.99% in Wiltshire with an additional 1% going directly towards supporting adult social care.
For a Band D property, that’s an increase of £47.56 annually or 91p per week.
The council states,“this type of strategic focus is essential due to the current financial challenges facing the public sector, which includes the ongoing pandemic, rising inflation, and increased demand for services.”
The council’s budget for the next financial year is just over £417m and will see the authority spending more than half of it, around £235m, on the key support and care provided to adults and children.
Around £92m will be spent on the vital day-to-day services such as waste management, road maintenance, leisure and library services, as well as the council’s carbon management and climate change work – which recently saw the council ranked as the fifth-best unitary authority in the UK for its response to the global challenge.
The council says they will also continue their commitment of spending £1m a year to support the county’s high streets in its market towns and cathedral city while also investing £1.7m to increase capacity in its special educational needs and inclusion services.
The council’s capital programme, which is spent on projects to improve and maintain the county’s infrastructure is confirmed to be £307m in 2022/23, and will invest in leisure services, council house building, schools maintenance, footpath and highway improvements, and projects to improve the high streets of Salisbury and Trowbridge.
The council’s Business Plan aims to ensure the budget is spent strategically with a clear long-term focus, and outlines the council’s guiding themes: prevention and early intervention; improving social mobility and tackling inequalities; understanding communities, and working together.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council said, “This is a hugely significant budget for Wiltshire. A budget that makes some difficult decisions now to set the council on a stable financial footing for the next three years.
“It takes a long term strategic approach to the challenges we face and the work we need to do to transform the way we deliver adult social care, our high streets, the way we generate our energy and the way we protect our environment. A budget that will invest over a billion pounds in Wiltshire over the next eight years in housing, transport, schools and leisure. A budget set after significant consideration of the pressure we face and the options we have, a budget to control our costs and deliver a clear vision for the future of Wiltshire and the council focusing on making a positive difference in the long term.
“We, of course recognise, that this is a concerning time for residents, particularly with the cost of living on the rise, and we ourselves have had to make some tough decisions in setting the budget. But we firmly believe that, with our Business Plan principals right at the heart of everything we do as a council, we’ll work side-by-side with our communities to keep Wiltshire the distinctive place it is, ensuring it remains somewhere that people want to live, work in and visit.”