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Council agrees a housing focussed budget for 2022/23

Council agrees a housing focussed budget for 2022/23

Councillors have agreed a budget that commits over £1 billion of funding to deliver much-needed affordable and social housing in Bristol, whilst protecting frontline services.

2 March 2021

Meeting for the second time in two weeks, elected members of Bristol City Council voted in favour of the budget presented by the Mayor, Marvin Rees. The agreed budget, which contains amendments put forward by councillors during their first meeting (15 February 2022), sets aside over £431 million to spend on frontline services such as social care, libraries and children centres.

Over £1.9 billion was agreed as part of the council’s capital budget to invest in major projects, with the vast majority earmarked for delivering more affordable and social housing.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This budget prioritises access to the services people need the most and sets out a substantial investment in tackling the housing crisis that persists in the city. Despite the increasing pressure put on our finances, we’ve continued to protect those most in need by fully funding our council tax reduction scheme and ensuring funds are available for those in crisis. We would like to do more but the short-term nature of government funding of local councils and the financial impact of the pandemic forces us to focus our efforts on those who need it the most.

“We expected to have to negotiate and make some compromises to get this budget agreed. Where we felt that good ideas were being put forward with thought-out plans for funding, we’ve worked with party groups to include these. We all have a responsibility to deliver on this budget and ensure our priorities of tackling the climate and ecological emergencies, delivering homes and supporting those in need are met.”

In agreeing the council’s revenue and capital budgets for the year, councillors approved a 2.99 per cent rise in Council Tax that includes a 1 per cent precept aimed at generating funding for adult social care services. The increase in council tax will take effect from 1 April 2022 and appear on the next round of bills residents will receive in the coming weeks.

In addition, funding allocations from the annual Dedicated Schools Grant, government funding for schools and education, totalling £421.5 million were agreed. This money is distributed amongst schools and is used to support school budgets and provide funding to support those with special education needs (SEND).

Over £127 million was also approved as part of the council’s Housing Revenue Account budget. This fund, made up of money received in rent for council housing and services provided to tenants, is used to manage, maintain and deliver council housing.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance, Property and Culture, said: “We’ve spent many months analysing our finances and forecasting our financial position so we have a clear picture of how we can balance the books in such a way that protects the services people need and the investments we must make to meet our priorities. It’s been a challenge to balance this budget in the face of increasing costs, rising service demand and the financial impacts of COVID. I am pleased however that we’ve managed to find solutions that first focus on how we do things before reducing or stopping services. Where savings have had to be made, we do so in the knowledge that they are necessary and unavoidable.

“Setting this budget has required a whole-council effort, with every single part of the authority contributing to the plans approved by councillors. I am grateful for the effort of every officer and elected member who took part in this process. Whilst it has been difficult to look for savings yet again, whilst staring at further uncertainty over our future funding, we can be safe in the knowledge that no effort has been spared to protect the most vulnerable from those funding shortfalls.”

Earlier in 2021, the council announced it had identified a budget shortfall totalling £19.2 million. Proposed savings were published alongside the budget and were approved during the meeting. Whilst a number of the proposals relate to work that is already underway and will deliver savings in the coming year, many are yet to be developed and will require further consultation.

For a full list of the budget papers and additional information associated with Bristol City Council’s 2022/23 budget, visit the council’s website.

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