Council plans to freeze council tax for Burnham residents
tax rates for residents in the Burnham-On-Sea area look set to
be frozen for a sixth year by Somerset County Council to help
Spending plans of more than £300m were unveiled by Somerset
County Council on Thursday, alongside a council tax freeze for
a sixth year in a row.
The proposals will be put to a vote at Februarys full council
meeting and also see plans for more than £56m to be spent
on new roads, school buildings and other regional projects - but
some services and staff will be cut back.
The plans reflect a loss of government funding to the tune of
£20m compared to last year, as well as increased demand
across many services which has put huge pressure on council budgets.
"We have had to make some very difficult decisions to reflect
the fall in Government funding," said Council Leader John
Osman. "I call again on Government to look at how it allocates
its funding and to stop the current system which penalises rural
counties like Somerset. We want fairer funding for Somerset and
will continue to take the fight to Government to try to win the
Under the proposals, frontline services for adults (£86m)
and Children (£40m) remain the biggest budget areas and
wherever possible have been protected.
The plans will also see more set aside for highways and waste
As a direct result of the reduction in Government funding, the
Council has had to make savings. These include decisions which
will be debated and voted on by Cabinet members in early February:
Around 100 staff posts being lost either through
not filling vacancies, or voluntary/compulsory redundancies
the area hardest hit will be the back office and admin area of
business support which alone will save £1.4m.
£2.2m saved in adults services through more efficient
ways of working
£1m saved by less use of residential care homes and
helping people stay in their own homes for longer
Reducing staff sickness needing fewer expensive
Reducing training and support in areas such as nursery,
early years and school improvement
There are around 60 other proposals, from minor funding changes
through to significant sums, bringing the savings total to just
over £16m, says the council.
The rest of the budget gap will be delivered through a variety
of ways including more people paying Council Tax (due to an increase
in the number of homes built), an improvement in the percentage
of tax collected by district councils, and by restructuring the
Councils debt payments.
"There is no doubt that we would rather not be making some
of these savings, and if the Government hadnt reduced our
funding by so much we wouldnt have to," said Cllr Osman.
"I would highlight one area in particular buses.
We are having to look at savings such as stopping our subsidy
for Saturday services."
"Where a route is viable for bus operators, they will continue
to run their services but on the face of it this looks like a
tough decision that is until you see the extent of some
of our bus subsidies it cannot be right that our Council
Tax payers should be forking out more than £7 per person
per journey on one route, and similar subsidies on many others."
The spending plans will be discussed by the Councils Scrutiny
Committees on 30th January and Cabinet on 9th February, both of
which will be held at the Taunton Conference Centre at Somerset