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Portsmouth’s financial future is looking brighter as, for the first time in more than a decade, new budget proposals are forecasting no council savings will be required in 2023/24.

Since 2011/12 Portsmouth City Council has had to make £104m of savings as funding from central government has reduced. The news comes at a time when most other councils anticipate requiring millions of pounds of savings.

The forecast comes on the back of proposals for the 2022/23 budget, which include a 2.99% council tax increase, £1.8m of savings and £67.8m of new investment in projects in the city.

The savings for this year, which have largely been met by efficiencies without impacting on public services, are needed to meet current budget pressures and deliver new initiatives such as extending the food waste recycling trial to cover the entire city.

The investment in new projects includes funding for building a new leisure centre at Bransbury Park, recycling infrastructure and improving public spaces around Southsea’s new sea defences. The proposals also reflect resident’s priorities with more than £500,000 put towards new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), £1.1m for improving facilities for sustainable transport and funding also allocated to projects to enhance the green space in the city, all of which were identified as priorities by residents responding to the council’s recent budget consultation.

The consultation also indicated residents were supportive of a council tax increase, with 78% in favour of an increase to help tackle the council’s growing costs caused by inflation and increasing demand for services.

Council Leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: “I’ve been involved in budget setting in Portsmouth for 18 years and this is the first time I’ve seen a forecast saying we won’t need to make savings next year. It’s great news for the city and down to sound financial management including investing in the right long-term planning to minimise future costs. We’re still dedicated to committing the city’s money to the right places for example a new leisure centre in Bransbury Park will mean we avoid millions of pounds in maintenance costs at our older existing centres while plans for a food waste recycling plant in Portsmouth will bring down our costs and can make money supporting other council’s recycling efforts.”

The budget proposals will be considered at the council’s Cabinet meeting on 8 February and if accepted will then go to the Full Council meeting on 15 February for final approval.