Bolton Council Gives Green Light to Budget for 2024/25

Cuts to library services amounting to £103k were successfully avoided following a proposal put forward during the latest meeting of the full council.

Instead, the proposed reduction in funding will be covered by the return of £1.2m from reserves held by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority.

Council members have also approved plans to raise general council tax by 2.99%.

Furthermore, there will be an additional 2% increase in the Adult Social Care Precept, which will secure funding specifically allocated to essential frontline services for the most vulnerable individuals.

According to government regulations, local authorities can raise council tax by up to 4.99% without requiring a referendum.

These adjustments translate to an extra £1.08 per week for properties classified as Band A, which account for over 40% of Bolton’s total tax base.

The recent Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement by the government has left the council with a further budget shortfall of £2.5m.

However, this deficit is expected to be compensated by higher-than-anticipated income from business rates.

Meanwhile, a proposed reduction in the Local Welfare Provision has been excluded from the final agreement and will instead be financed through a contingency budget.

This decision was made in response to concerns raised by residents during the recent budget consultation, as well as news that the council is unlikely to receive Household Support funding from the government for the 2024/2025 period.

These modifications have resulted in the council’s target for cuts being initially revised down from £9.1m to £8.6m.

Following the removal of cuts to library services, the new target for reductions is now set at £8.5m.

Over 600 responses were received during the public consultation on the proposals, which ran from December 5 last year to January 9.

More than three-quarters of respondents acknowledged the necessity of implementing budget cuts.

Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Nick Peel, expressed his thoughts on the matter, stating:

“In these times of rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, people require support from the council more than ever.

“We are determined not to add to the pressure on residents by increasing council tax more than absolutely necessary.

“However, providing services comes at a cost, and unfortunately, the government’s support for councils is not keeping up with demand.

“Therefore, setting the council’s budget requires a delicate balance between securing funds for crucial frontline services and investments, while also striving to keep council tax as low as possible.”

It is important to note that any changes to council tax in Bolton will be in addition to adjustments made by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

For the 2024/25 period, the Mayoral General Precept, which includes fire services, will increase by £5 (4.63%).

Furthermore, the Mayoral Police and Crime Commissioner Precept will rise by £13 (5.34%).

Further consultation will take place as necessary regarding individual options for cuts as they are presented in the upcoming months.

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