Budget statement made by Cllr Joanna Wright at B&NES Council Feb 2022

“Legislation clearly states that every councillor is responsible for the financial control and decision making of their council. The Local Government Act 2000 requires Full Council to approve the council’s budget and council tax demands.

As a Councillor I am expected to vote for Bath and North East Somerset’s projected Budget of approximately £127 million as set out in the Budget and council tax 2022/23 and financial outlook papers. I would like to thank the Section 151 Officer and his team for the many hours of hard work put into this report.

However, I am concerned about how councillors from all sections of the Council have been able to scrutinise this budget and the spending of millions of tax-payers money with any rigour.

In the past year I have asked this council for financial training from the LGA and was told that it was not possible for me to have this.  As a person with little financial training, which I assume is the same for most Cllrs across any elected chamber, I therefore call on the leadership to put in place proper financial training for all Cllrs so that we can properly fulfill our legal responsibility to sign off this budget having given it informed scrutiny. The Treasury Management Code of 2017,states it is the responsibility of the relevant Officer for an Authority to ensure that all council members have access to relevant financial training.

In the last few months we have learned that Virgin Care has been bought out by a private equity firm, now called HCRG and which will now run much of the social care in B&NES. In the Adult Social Care Precept section of this budget, it is not clear whether the new agreement with HCRG will include inflation costs. It is clear that  elected members have not been able to fully and properly scrutinise this budget and its ramifications for all the residents of B&NES with reference to the buy out of adult care services.

The most important element of this budget is the decision to set inflation at 2%. 

 In Annex A,  Arlingclose Ltd, a city firm that advises Councils state that inflation is set to rise in the next financial year in the order of 5 to 8%. This is across the board, and affects everything. So clearly the medium term financial strategy of any Council, has to take this important information into account.  How can a budget that all councillors are being asked to sign off fail to include this important advice. My own household finances are already increasing and I am having to plan ahead for this inflation.  This is also the case for this Council and it means that in the next financial year it will need to find approximately £10million in extra money or in savings to be able to meet the budget as laid out in front of us here. 

Inflation has been buried in this budget and the use of ONS data as a marker of inflation looks at what has taken place, it fails to address the future, which is what all budgets are about.  The leader and deputy leaders are clearly asleep at the wheel, senior management are using obfuscating economic language. Residents deserve better.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: