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Proposals to spend over £130m on services to support vulnerable children and adults in Swindon will be discussed by councillors next week (1 Feb).

Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve a proposed overall budget of £166.4m for the next financial year (23-24), approximately 80 per cent of which has been allocated for children’s and adults’ social care.

The remaining 20 per cent of the budget would be spent on day-to-day services which will benefit all residents, such as waste and recycling services, including extending the food waste service to all one hundred thousand households in the Borough later this year.

Funding has also been allocated for maintaining Swindon’s roads, education services, cultural facilities, libraries and Swindon’s much-loved country parks.

Despite the huge amount of money set aside for the hundreds of services the Council provides, a number of proposals have been identified to close an unprecedented budget gap of almost £40m for 2023-24, which has been caused by record levels of inflation (£22.3m) and service cost pressures (£17.5m).

This includes a proposal to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent – two per cent of which will support adult social care, with the remaining 2.99 per cent being used to support general council services.

A 4.99 per cent increase would increase the average council tax bill by £6.39 per month, excluding precepts from other bodies such as parish councils and the police and fire authorities.

Significant savings have been identified through reviewing the cost of adults and children’s social care packages and reducing the placement costs of children who come under the care of the local authority.

A £600,000 proposed saving is included in the budget, which could see certain streetlights dimmed or turned off at night, while a proposal to reintroduce pay and display car parking charges on Sundays has also been put forward. Some of the service changes proposed will be subject to consultation.

Under the proposals, approximately 100 full-time equivalent posts will be removed from the organisation’s structure in 23/24, of which half are currently vacant. Pending Full Council approval of the budget next month, any changes would be subject to a 30-day consultation process.

Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Finance and Commercialisation, said: “This is without doubt the most challenging financial position we have faced as a council due to the record levels of inflation and the impact that has on all the services we deliver to local residents.

“We are all experiencing the impact inflation is having on our own personal budgets, especially for essential utilities like gas and electricity. For the Council, these inflationary pressures have added a staggering £22m to our costs for next year. This is unprecedented and equates to 13 per cent of the Council’s entire net budget for the next 12 months.

“The bulk of our budget is spent on looking after and protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities, while also maintaining the services that local residents and businesses expect from the Council.

“However, these rises in our costs mean we have to take some difficult decisions when prioritising essential services in order to deliver a balanced budget, as we are required to by law. This will mean increasing council tax and also making some changes to the way we do things.

“We have to find savings of £26m next year, which is the single biggest saving we’ve ever had to make in one financial year and Cabinet colleagues will be asked to make some tough choices next week to help us reach that target.”

Following next week’s Cabinet meeting, the budget proposals will be scrutinised by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday, 6 February before going before all councillors at the Full Council meeting on Thursday, 16 February.