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Tuesday 17 January 2023

A budget statement from the Leaders of Salisbury City Council

Yesterday on Mon 16 Jan 2023 at a meeting of the Full Council, Salisbury City Council agreed a rise in the precept of £102 per year. This means that those who pay Band D tax council will pay £335 per year, and those at Band C will pay £297.78, Band B £260.56 and Band A £223.33. Within the City 60% of properties are Band D and below, with the most numerous band being Band C.

Here is a statement issued on behalf of the Leaders of the Council, Cllr Victoria Charleston, Cllr Ian Tomes and Cllr Annie Riddle.

“This is not a party political budget. It is a balanced budget. The city council’s reserves cannot be raided. They are already at the minimum level, and must be rebuilt.

Like households and businesses everywhere in this economic crisis, we face hugely increased costs.

Ours include the management of assets such as the Poultry Cross, where insurance will not cover all the repairs found to be needed after last year’s car crash, and upgrading our public toilets and playgrounds.

There is a significant increase in our staffing budget because we have taken on grounds and streetscene staff from former Wiltshire Council contractors idVerde, who used to work alongside our own teams. We will no longer have to pay the firm and contribute to its profits. This had all-party support because it will be more efficient and makes long-term financial sense.

In the short term we have to buy vehicles for this team, and because we have chosen to be ‘green’ they will be dearer than their fossil fuel equivalents.
We will be holding some posts vacant for now to save £70,000.

Since our previous budget in January 2022, we’ve had an increase of 223% in our electricity charges, 208% on gas and 50% on water and sewerage. Combined, these take our utility bills over half a million pounds.

We’ve had a nationally agreed pay rise for staff averaging 8%, with another 4% allowed for in the next financial year. Our insurance has more than doubled to £160,000. And we’re facing an unknown rise in business rates in April.
We also have to pay higher employers’ pension contributions – up from 11.1 to 13.7%.

We are not funding any fancy new projects. We are maintaining much-needed community services such as the Pantry and looking at co-working with a charity to reduce our overheads. We have reduced or cut entirely spending on other things which are not our core responsibility, such as city centre security guards, policing of litter louts, and public art.

We have cut £10,000 from the Neighbourhood Plan budget, reduced spending on floral displays, ringroad cleansing, the Future Salisbury group which promotes the city, and on our Christmas and summer events budget (down 10%).

We have repeatedly invited the Conservatives to share in the council’s joint administration but they say they prefer to be in opposition. Nonetheless, we invited them to join us in preparing this budget. They didn’t even reply.”