Our budget consultation for 2023 to 2028 and why we're consulting.

Why we consulted

Every February, the Council sets its budget, detailing how much we will be able to spend and what our priorities are.

The annual budget must balance the money we spend with the money we are expecting to receive.

What we consulted on

Despite plans to continue to spend on priority areas, to do so we must find a mix of additional income and cost savings between £37.5 million and £87.6 million. This equates to 9% - 20% of the council's core budget - over the next five years.  

Proposals for reducing costs and generating further income, contained within the consultation, amount to £46 million over the coming five years.

With some way to go to deliver a balanced budget, views are being sought on these savings proposals which includes potential cost savings and income generation between 2023 and 2028.

The survey also consulted people on level of Council Tax and Social Care Precept for next year (2023/24).

The current worst case forecast for the budget gap during this period stands at £87.6 million, meaning further difficult decisions may be required in February 2023 and beyond to bridge the remaining gap.

Further proposals may be required, and additional consultation could follow.

Why Bristol needs to make big savings

Since the council passed its current budget and five-year outlook in March 2022, there have been significant changes on a national and global stage that are having a direct impact on the authority's financial forecasts.

Inflation in the UK has risen sharply in recent months, climbing above 10% in September this year, pushing up the price of goods, services and energy for everyone in the country.

Global events, such as the war in Ukraine, are also having an effect on international markets which impact directly on the cost of living.

These current issues add pressure onto a local government system that has already seen significant financial challenges in the wake of COVID-19 and national austerity policies that have reduced government funding for councils over the past decade.

We are not alone. Councils across the country are facing the spiralling costs of goods, services and energy along with growth in demand whilst also trying to deliver vital frontline services, support the most in need and meet their legal duties.

Collectively, we face additional costs of over £3.4 billion in 2023/24, which rises to a gap of £4.5 billion in 2024/25, just to maintain services at pre-pandemic levels.

Nine in ten councils anticipate budget shortfalls in the next financial year. 

What happens next

The consultation has closed.

All responses to this budget consultation will be analysed and the feedback will help us develop final proposals for the level of Council Tax and Social Care Precept, and how we will balance the budget gap in 2023/24.

The council's Cabinet will consider these proposals on 24 January 2023 and agree a recommended budget for all councillors to consider.

The final decisions about the 2023/24 budget will be taken by Full Council at its budget setting meeting on 21 February 2023.

Both Cabinet and Full Council will take responses to the consultation into consideration when making their decisions.