Dorset Council’s proposed budget for 2023-24 will raise bills by around 4 percent for residents, it has been revealed.
That represents a £1.41 extra per week increase in council tax for people who live in a Band D property, or just over £6 a month.
In its initial proposals for the next financial year Dorset Council’s total net budget for 2023-24 will be £348 million.
The council says the proposals would see essential frontline council services continuing to be provided to residents and businesses, protected from cuts. Dorset Council provides around 450 different services to just under 380,000 residents.
It says the proposals are in ‘contrast with many other councils nationally’, which face the prospect of cuts to services, such as library closures and reduction of road maintenance, to balance their budgets.
The council is required by law to set a balanced budget which means its expenditure must be balanced by income without unsustainable use of one-off, or short-term sources of finance.
This year’s budget setting exercise once more takes place against a national background of extreme pressures for councils. These pressures include the high level of inflation which affects the cost of delivering council services, and also the continued growth in need for social care services as a result of the ageing population.
Dorset Council’s cost pressures have been well documented in the quarterly financial management reports to Cabinet and in the budget update provided in October.
The council proposes to increase council tax next year by just under 2 percent and to levy the adult social care precept of 2 percent. This is less than the maximum 5 percent increase outlined in the Government’s Spending Review in December 2022. That is equivalent to £1.41 extra per week for a Band D property.
Councillor Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Capital Strategy, said: ‘We have carefully developed proposals to deliver a balanced budget, in a national context of significant financial challenge. Our overriding aim is to protect the essential frontline council services on which local residents and businesses rely.
‘The proposals do include a council tax increase, however we have kept to it to the minimum possible, despite the current high level of inflation. We continue to provide financial support for those hardest hit.
‘Since becoming a unitary council in 2019, we have made efficiency savings of £76 million, and this money has been reinvested to protect frontline services, including funding the growing need for adult social care with our ageing population. Our prudent budget management has meant that Dorset has not faced the same cuts to essential services as many other areas.
‘However, we continue to lobby government for fairer funding for Dorset so that we can reduce the burden on local taxpayers in future.’
The budget setting process takes place in several stages. The proposals are considered by the two scrutiny committees, then reviewed and submitted to Cabinet on 23 January 2023, and then to Full Council in February for final approval.
The public meetings are being held in person as follows:
10am, 10 January 2023 – People and Health Scrutiny Committee
11.30am, 12 January 2023 – Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee (papers will be published on Wednesday 4 January 2023).
10am, 23 January – 2023 Cabinet
6.30pm, 14 February – Full Council