Council claim draft budget is first step towards ‘reducing inequality’ in authority

North Somerset Council.

North Somerset Council. - Credit: Google Street View

The majority of taxpayers look likely to face a hike in their council bills from April.

North Somerset Council.

North Somerset Council. - Credit: Google Street View

North Somerset Council has said its budget for the next year is the first step towards 'reducing inequalities that exist in North Somerset'.

The draft budget, which will be discussed at an executive meeting on January 7 and finalised in February, sets out the council's plan to improve social care services and increase the support it gives to adults and children.

This includes support for some 7,000 working-age residents on low incomes, who could pay £52 less in council tax each year. This will be funded by a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax, plus another two per cent increase which will be ring-fenced for adult social care.

Other ways the council plans to fund its long-term ambitions, include plans to introduce charges for garden waste collections, which are expected to bring in £450,000 a year and installing LED street lighting to cut its energy bills by £300,000 and help tackle climate change.

The council is also planning to roll out a 12-month pilot scheme to bring 10 empty shops in Weston back into use.

Council leader Donald Davies said: "We are committed to ensuring that our council is more open, fairer and greener under the new administration, and the budget we have prepared reflects these ambitions.

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"Financial austerity has not gone away - we are still facing tough choices. But we are determined to protect services wherever possible and narrow the gaps that exist between the residents who have the most and the least opportunity to thrive in North Somerset.

"We will continue to focus on maximising independence for vulnerable adults, early intervention and support for families and young people, encouraging active and healthy lifestyles for everyone."

Some 'small changes' are set to be made to council staffing levels and employees could be given the option to buy extra holiday which could earn the authority £30,000.

A new council tax premium on empty properties could also bring in £100,000 in the first year.

Elsewhere in the budget, closing the staff canteen at the council's Castlewood offices could save £20,000, while increasing the number of in-house foster placements could cut costs by £100,000 by 2021/22.