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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire County Council to decide on £31million increase to annual budget

Increased funding to help tackle climate change and more money for protecting vulnerable children form part of a £31million increase to the Gloucestershire County Council budget.

The council's cabinet will meet on Friday to consider the £468million draft budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

In it, a £1million action fund will be set up to help tackle climate change while an additional £12.9 million will go towards protecting vulnerable children in Gloucestershire.

The budget also sets aside more than £73.6m of capital investment for schools and children and family services, bringing total expected capital investment to around £160m by 2023.

A further £49.8m has been allocated to deliver the third year of the council's £150m Your Highways programme.

The first of almost £1m investment into flood alleviation schemes will be spent next year, significantly reducing the risk to almost 300 homes once all schemes are completed in 2023.

Despite the extra investment, Gloucestershire County Council still expects to have one of the ten lowest council tax levels, once the costs of delivering the Fire and Rescue are included.

The 2019 IMPOWER Index states that the county council continues to be one of the top 10 most productive councils in the country, and in the top three when it comes to productivity within adult services.

The council continues to challenge itself to work more efficiently and effectively and as a result has identified £9.58m savings for next year.

The draft budget proposes to raise in the region of £6.3m to help fund services through a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax.

The council is also proposing to apply the national social care precept at 2 per cent to raise an additional £6.3m to help manage the increase demand for adult care services.

In total these changes result in an increase of under £1 per week for the average Band D taxpayer.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of the council said: "This budget sees significantly more money for

the most vulnerable children and adults in Gloucestershire, while still charging one of the lowest council tax levels of any county.

"We are tackling the big issues facing us. Fighting climate change, flood protection schemes, building new schools and improving the state of our roads.

"We're not complacent - there is much still to do - but we are working hard, and working efficiently to deliver the priorities Gloucestershire people identified."

The council have outlined a number of what they are calling 'key investments' for the coming year.

Of the £73.6million for schools and children, and family services £20million will go towards the £30 million secondary school in Cheltenham.

A further £6.5million will be invested in a new SEMH Special School, while £3.2 million will go to The Cotswold School for its expansion.

Primary school places in Bishop's Cleeve will be increas

ed thanks to a £6.2million investment while £2.5million will be used to aid the expansion of Leckhampton Primary School.

The highways budget will see £14.5 million put into improving the Gloucester South West Bypass, Arle Court and Junction 11 of the M5.

That money will also be used to extend the Honeybourne cycle route and a Gloucester to Quedgeley and Cheltenham to Bishop's Cleeve cycle tracks.

There will be £1.5million to ensure the Fire and Rescue Service have new and improved life-saving equipment and to increase the service's prevention and protection work.

There will be £700,000 spent on flood alleviation work, the first part of a £5.3million fund that will reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes over the coming years.

There will also be £5million to upgrade street lights and traffic signals and £3.1million to ensure delivering broadband internet across Gloucestershire.

Subject to cabinet approval, a consultation on the budget will run from December 20 through to January 17.

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