The administration running Portsmouth City Council has unveiled its savings proposals for the financial year 2019–20.
The proposals follow a survey of local people on council spending, which attracted 3,085 responses – more than the total number of responses received in the previous two years combined.
The survey asked people for their views on how the budget should be allocated, what services they most value and whether council tax should increase.
The proposals and consultation report can be seen in the documents below.
The administration has borne in mind the desire of residents to protect key services, along with the effects of the current level of inflation – ranging from 2.4 per cent (CPI) and 3.3 per cent (RPI) – and a 4.9% National Living Wage increase.
It is therefore proposing a three per cent general increase in council tax alongside an additional 1.5 per cent rise specifically to fund adult social care.
These council tax increases mean the council would be able to accommodate cuts in government funding and keep its necessary savings to £4m. Only seven per cent of the proposed savings come from service reductions, with the rest coming from efficiencies and increased income.
In the survey, 68 per cent of responses were in favour of the extra 1.5 per cent for adult social care.
A big majority of 85 per cent said the council should look to generate income to counteract the need for savings, rather than reducing services. This aligns with the council's new income generation strategy, approved by cabinet this month.
Education was identified by residents as the priority area of council spending people felt needed to be increased. Overall responses showed a preference for reducing the percentage of council money put towards health, wellbeing and social care, but people still felt it should remain the overall largest area of spending for the organisation.
Council Leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: "We asked people for their views on the budget and we have listened to them in our proposals. I'm delighted so many people had their say.
"When it comes to the proposed council tax rise, we have had to make some tough decisions. The main idea of the three per cent rise is to try to keep up with inflation. A two per cent rise would effectively mean a cut in our income, because inflation is more than that.
"Spending on children's social care is protected the most in our budget proposals, with no savings planned. Education has savings proposals that amount to 0.9 per cent, compared with the average saving for the council of 2.5 per cent.
"People have told us they want education to receive more money, so we are making sure that part of the council has been protected as much as possible. Similarly health, wellbeing and social care was highlighted as an area where spending could shrink, so we have made savings here. But with the additional funding coming from council tax for adult social care, we will make sure we still look after our most vulnerable residents.
"There was an overwhelming majority of responses saying we should look to make money rather than reducing services, so that is what we are doing. In the proposals there is a range of income-generating initiatives, from renting out spaces for events through to the council's property portfolio.
"People also wanted us to save on back-office functions, which is what we intend to do.
"Additional income amounts to 21 per cent of all the savings we've proposed. A total of 72 per cent of savings would come from efficiency improvements, and only seven per cent from service reductions."
The administration running the council has published its budget proposals ahead of the full council meeting on 11 December where all councillors will vote to decide on the savings to be brought into the council's budget for 2019/20. The final budget and council tax will be decided at a full council meeting in February 2019.
Like all councils, Portsmouth is facing a further reduction in the grant it gets from the government. This means there is less money to pay for public services.
The council needs to save £4m from its revenue budget in the next financial year – the first part of £12m savings it will have to make in the coming three years. This is all in addition to £98m savings it has had to make in the last eight years.