Sign in or register to view your account

The ruling group on Portsmouth City Council proposed a budget that aims to safeguard as many services valued by residents as possible despite tough financial challenges.

The council surveyed local people on budget options in September and October 2015. About 2,500 residents, council staff and businesses responded with views and suggestions that have helped to shape the proposals.  

More than 80% of those who responded backed a Council Tax increase to help protect services. The administration's budget was based on a proposed Council Tax increase of 2%.

The proposals were released ahead of a full council meeting on 8 December 2015. They set out how the administration believed the council should make the £11m of savings it has to find in the next financial year.

Like all local authorities, the council is facing further cuts to the money it gets from the government. It has already made £75m of savings over the last five years and needs to find a further £31m in the three years from 2016/17, and that has to come from £125m of net controllable spend.  

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Donna Jones, said: "We're releasing our budget proposals today, well in advance of the council meeting, because we want to make sure residents and staff are fully aware of what we're proposing before any decisions are made. 

"No one wants to make cuts to services but in today's very tough financial climate, we're faced with extremely difficult decisions.  

"Although we have been working hard to make the council more efficient and bring in more income, including £3.5m for the naming rights of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower, some cuts are now unavoidable.   

"That's why we felt it was so important to give local people the chance to tell us what they think about where the savings should come from. I'm pleased that around 2,500 people responded to our survey on council spending and we're grateful to them, which is a slight increase on last year. 

"I've looked at every response and, wherever possible, we've tried to make proposals in line with the feedback from local people. As a result of the consultation, we will be protecting Meals on Wheels and heating subsidies for older people, and we'll keep cleaning our roads and the city centre at the same level we do at the moment. We'll also look for even more ways to bring in additional income, as this option was overwhelmingly popular with local people."

More than 68% of survey respondents said council funding for sexual health services should be stopped or reduced. The proposals include a £300,000 saving from chlamydia screening.

Although the survey showed bus services were highly valued, more than 60% said the council should reduce or remove subsidies to bus companies. The proposals include a total reduction of £200,000 a year in payments to bus operators.

In the survey, 63% backed reducing or ending funding for community centres. Proposed savings in this area total around £44,000.

More than 91% backed reducing or stopping support for quit-smoking services. The proposals include a £39,400 saving on nicotine replacement therapy.

A majority in the survey (56%) favoured reducing winter cleaning on the seafront. The proposals include saving £25,000 a year by cleaning only when needed in the winter, instead of following a rigid schedule.

Budget savings have to be made from the general fund. Gross controllable expenditure in the general fund is £189m, of which £64m is income from rents, fees, charges and licences, leaving £125m of net controllable expenditure from which the budget savings have to be taken. 

For the budget savings proposals and budget survey/consultation results see the documents below.

The £11m of savings proposals was considered at Full Council on 8 December 2015.