Budget Setting 2023/4

The February Council meeting is always a long and painful one. The papers for the meeting extend to over 1000 pages. In anticipation that the meeting may continue until the small hours of Wednesday morning, a contingency has been set to adjourn until the following day.

Full Council tomorrow night will set the BCP Council budget for 2023/4. As a result of follies by the Conservatives, their budget is a complete mess.

Extra Government scrutiny, tied to a £20M loan Directive that Cllr Mellor asked for, means that Council Tax will have to be raised by the maximum permissible without a referendum, 3% plus 2% for the Social Care precept. Drew Mellor tried new ways to avoid this, ignoring officer and government warnings. And now he’s walked.

The Administration devised two lists of cuts (Annex 6a and 6b of the meeting papers). https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/mgChooseDocPack.aspx?ID=5032 Not a lot of detail on many of these, but the cunning plan from the Tory Administration was to defer the least popular ones (List 2) until after the elections. This throws the blame onto their successors.

The Unity Alliance parties worked hard to find other savings in order to limit the pain, for items like the grants to Citizens Advice, and the Community Action Network, community transport and road maintenance.

After finding £500K extra funds from Government in the books, the Tories and Poole Engage have come up with one-year deferment of some of the cuts, but not an ongoing sustainable saving.

Attempts have been made to reconcile the three amended proposals, but it appears that has been unsuccessful so far. This will all play out tomorrow night.

List 2 savings in proposed Conservative budget (from June 2023)