Lib Dems’ ambitious B&NES budget showcases fiscal prudence

21 February 2024

In the face of reduced central Government funding, rising demand for services and increasing costs, Lib Dem Councillors unveiled their 2024-25 budget prioritising investment in residents’ priorities, protection of the most vulnerable in our community and sound financial management while taking action on the climate and ecological emergency. The budget was adopted at B&NES Council on 22nd February by 39 votes to 10.

Councillors approved funding to meet the rising costs of social care as well as investment to maintain key priorities such as sustainable transformation, developing walking and cycling plans, keeping our area ‘Clean and Green’, and scaling up the Council’s social housing programme.

Funding was also approved for ambitious new projects such as cycling and walking schemes, relocating Bath’s Fashion Museum, high street renewal in market towns, and new provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Highlights of the total revenue budget of £435m and the total capital programme of £153m include:

  • Helping the most vulnerable residents by putting an additional £5.8m into social care

  • Investing £5m into B&NES Homes, the Council’s housebuilding programme

  • Putting £5m into supported housing which will help reduce out of area provision

  • Increasing investment in the Local Highway Improvement Programme four-fold by £2.9m

  • Reinvesting revenue from the Clean Air Zone revenue in safe travel: £250,000 in school streets and £2m in the first phase of Scholars’ Way in the south of Bath, a safe route for cyclists, pedestrians and other active travel users connecting educational establishments.

Councillors criticised the Conservative government for its harsh reduction in local government funding over the last decade. This has left local authorities increasingly reliant on their own income streams (including council tax) to fund the vital services on which all residents rely.

Cabinet member for Resources, Councillor Mark Elliott, underlined the administration’s record of financial prudence – avoiding risky investments and keeping a lid on borrowing.

Councillor Elliott said:

“We’ve faced some very difficult decisions over the past few months, but when making those decisions we always prioritised the protection of our most vulnerable residents, maintenance of front-line services, and delivery on the commitments we made to residents in our manifesto less than 12 months ago. These things highlight our priorities and demonstrate the difference a Lib Dem Council makes to the residents of Bath & North East Somerset.”

Lib Dem Leader, Councillor Kevin Guy, added:

“Last May, our residents responded to our positive vision for Bath & North East Somerset by affirming that the Lib Dems are the party they trust to run our local authority for a historic second consecutive term. We are laying the foundation for a more inclusive, greener, healthier and more prosperous future.”

You can watch Cllr Elliott preview the budget highlights ahead of the full Council meeting in this B&NES Council video.