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SWT sets out budget proposals

20 January 2022 : Council news

Somerset West and Taunton Council is setting its budget for the coming financial year - the last ahead of the creation of a new unitary authority in April 2023.

The proposed budget for 2022/23 aims to protect services and minimise disruption for our customers, communities and businesses during the transition to the new Somerset Council, while allowing SWT to allocate resources to priorities identified in its Corporate Strategy.

The draft budget is balanced despite a further reduction of £1.5m in Government grant funding and a fall in funding through business rates.

Despite these challenges we have fully funded spending plans for the year, prioritising services and supporting spending on key projects such as our Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience (CNCR) Action Plan for which we will have allocated £1.5m in over three years.

SWT is continuing to invest in services and assets to improve the environment, increase social housing availability and quality, and deliver on regulatory compliance and safety of our properties. We have worked hard to deliver savings and efficiencies to ensure this investment remains affordable.

All five councils are being asked to contribute to the implementation costs of Local Government Reorganisation in Somerset. The draft budget includes £1.375m for this purpose and related costs in 2022/23.

It is proposed to increase council tax by 2.95% which equates to £5 a year on a band D property, making the band D charge £174.63 per year for SWT’s share of the overall council tax bill received. This keeps the tax rise below inflation and raises an additional £283,000 in income towards funding Council services.

The proposed budget also includes a precept of £29,458 in special expenses for the Unparished Area of Taunton, which results in an annual council tax rate of £1.93 for a Band D for households in the Unparished Area.

Somerset West and Taunton’s share of the overall Council tax bill is 9% of the total, with the remainder going to fund Somerset County Council, Police and Fire services, and Town and Parish council services.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of SWT, said: “The proposed budget for 2022/23 is balanced despite future uncertainty around Government funding and the ongoing effects of the COVID pandemic on both the local economy and public sector services.

“Our priority as always is to ensure that local people continue to receive the services they value while still investing in our community to develop a thriving and resilient economy - creating jobs, improving our housing and protecting the environment.

“We recognise that it will require significant resources to ensure frontline services remain stable with minimal disruption going forward and have prepared a Budget which delivers this.”

The budget proposals will be considered by:
Corporate Scrutiny on 26 January
Executive – 9 February
Full Council – 24 February

The budget paper can be viewed here