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The Isle of Wight Council has set its budget and council tax for 2019/20

The Isle of Wight Council has set its budget and council tax for 2019/20, with an emphasis on protecting all major services and investing in the Island’s future.

Tonight’s (Wednesday’s) meeting of the Full Council agreed the budget, which included a 2.99 per cent rise in council tax – around 79p per week for a Band C property – from April.

The council tax increase is one of several measures that ensures the council can live within its means.

Only five per cent of the £5.5 million the council had to save this year will come from service cuts because it has delivered substantial and innovative efficiency savings, alongside initiatives to generate income.

The council has proposed to invest £43 million for capital projects in 2019/20, including £25 million of approved borrowing to invest on the Island for regeneration schemes delivering housing and employment.

In addition, more than £4 million will be spent on school refurbishments and more than £1.5 million will be invested in adaptations for Islanders with disabilities so they can live in their own homes for longer.

Leader of the council, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: “We took the bold step in publishing our budget plans four months ago to give people every opportunity to help us find the right balance between achieving the savings and securing revenue to invest in the Island’s future.

“While money remains tight and we’ve had to make very tough decisions, the impact is far less than last year because we are now far more innovative and efficient in how we deliver our services.

“We have a clear strategy to keep the council financially balanced and sustainable. As a result, we’re pleased to say we can reduce our savings target for next year by £1 million.

“We have listened to businesses and residents, including around parking, which will see some proposed price changes postponed for the next year to allow us time to develop a fair and consistent strategy that works for everyone on the Island.”

The key focus of the budget was to:

develop further the stability and resilience of the council so that it is strong enough to meet the needs of the Island’s community.
provide key capital investment for regeneration projects for the Island.
achieve £5.5 million of savings in 2019/20.
set council tax at a level which is critical to securing major council services on the Island.
improve the financial resilience of the council.
Councillor Stewart added: “This budget continues to give protection and support for the most vulnerable and balances that need with ensuring we provide services for the hard-working taxpayers who fund what we do.

“It safeguards delivery of council services for the next three years – meeting our ambition of ensuring a long-term financial strategy, not just a short-term fix.”

The council’s net revenue budget in 2019/20 will be £150 million.

The capital investment projects included:
£29.2 million – regeneration schemes (business growth, housing etc).
£1.1 million – improvement works (dredging and harbour walls) at Newport Harbour.
£2.0 million – continuing accommodation works at two Island care homes – the Adelaide, Ryde, and the Gouldings, Freshwater.
£3.9 milllion – schools’ capital programme.