Gloucestershire County Council’s Cabinet is set to agree a £519 million budget this week, which it says will begin building back better for the county.
At its meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 22 December) the Cabinet will consider spending plans for the council that include an extra £100 million for roads, funding for 26-miles of cycle track from Stroud to Bishop’s Cleeve, a £150 million injection into schools, investment in market towns and high streets and ongoing support and protection of the most vulnerable in communities.
There is also a commitment to continuing investing in Gloucestershire’s fight against covid-19 and in the county’s firefighters.
Spending in 2022/23 will exceed £519 million – an increase of almost £37 million on 2021/22 levels.
£14 million additional investment is planned for children and young people services, making sure young people are given the best possible start in life and are kept safe from harm with almost £9 million set to be invested in services for vulnerable adults and those living with a disability.
Of the spending planned for schools, the final £4 million of the council’s overall £9.7 million investment in the new SEMH school will be delivered, £6 million more will be committed towards the new secondary school in Cheltenham, an additional £4 million towards the new Warden Hill Primary School and another £7 million towards the new Bishops Cleeve Primary School.
A further £19.2 million is set aside for a range of other school improvement and maintenance schemes across the county.
A range of cycle routes will benefit from almost £20 million investment, including Gloucester to Cheltenham (£10.1 million), Gloucester City Centre – cycle spine (£3.7 million) and Cheltenham to Bishops Cleeve (£5.3 million). There is also a further £500,000 investment planned for essential drainage works and almost £900,000 for highways maintenance.
The budget will allocate £30,000 to each councillor to spend on highways schemes within their division next year
A further £1 million fund will also go towards tackling climate change, helping to meet the ambitious targets the council has set itself.
A 300,000 Community Speedwatch Safety Fund is also being proposed, which would enable the council to work with district, town and parish councils and residents to identify communities where speed awareness activity or a 20 is plenty campaign would make a difference to community safety.
£2.4 million will be invested in the fire and rescue service, ensuring our firefighters, who operate under incredibly high pressured and challenging circumstances, have the best possible life-saving equipment.
£2 million more is also being invested in delivering broadband to homes across the county.
The budget includes a council tax increase of 1.99 per cent, which will secure around £9.5 million for services and a one per cent adult social care levy, identifying around £3.7 million to help protect vulnerable adults. Based on a band D property, this equates to a £42 increase.
Despite the extra investment, Gloucestershire County Council still expects to have one of the lowest council tax levels of any county council.
The council says it continues to challenge itself to work more efficiently and effectively and as a result has identified £13million in savings for next year, helping to meet increased demand and costs.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, said: “We’re proposing a budget that we believe delivers for you and your family. It invests in our future and kick starts the county’s post-pandemic recovery.
“We continue to put protecting jobs and protecting our environment at the core of our plans, whilst keeping council tax levels among the lowest in the country. This is a budget for a greener, healthier more prosperous Gloucestershire.”
Subject to the cabinet agreeing the draft budget, a public consultation will run until midday on 21 January 2022. At its meeting on 26 January 2022, Cabinet will then consider the views expressed through the consultation before proposing a final budget for the County Council to vote on at its meeting in February 2022.
For more information on the budget, go to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/budget2022-23