Portsmouth City Council reveals budget savings plan and council tax rise – but fears grow over how much cash will come from government

PORTSMOUTH City Council's £12m savings plan could go to waste if the government overhauls how it dishes out cash.

Today the council revealed a proposed budget that would see its finances stay in the black by making savings of £12m over the next three years, with £4m of savings planned for 2019-2020.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Of this seven per cent would come from cuts to services with the rest of the cash coming from income generation, such as property investment, and making economical changes to how services are provided.

The council also plans to increase council tax by three per cent next year, alongside an additional 1.5 per cent rise specifically to fund adult social care.

But there are concerns that a recent government consultation, the fair funding formula review, could see Portsmouth lose out.

Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson explained what it could mean for the city. He said: 'This has come from councils in rural counties who historically get less funding from central government due to the fact that they have more ways of raising income.

'This could be from council tax, as properties are worth more. They also tend to have less pressures on certain services than in urban areas such as here.

'They want funding to be given out more equally and this could mean we get less.

'But we'll know more when the government makes the announcement in December.'

However, the leader was optimistic about the council's proposed budget which had been influenced by the results of a public consultation in which priorities were smaller financial losses to education and finding ways to cut more in resources.

As a result it is planned that £70,000 would be taken from education next year, whereas £1,358,000 would come from resources - mainly from changing contracts for works. No money would be taken from children's services due to increasing demands.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: 'I am pleased that we have been able to protect services for the most vulnerable people and for children and that over 90 per cent of these proposals coming from increased income or from running services more efficiently.

'We are really grateful to the work that's been done in the past at the council that's instilled a really good attitude towards income generation.'

Deputy leader Cllr Steve Pitt was pleased that over 3,000 people took part in the public events. 'The consultations were really useful, they showed us what people were most worried about,' he said.

'But it was also good for us to explain in detail how it all works. For example it might look like adult social care gets a lot more money but actually it is all needed.'

The proposed budget will be taken to full council in December for debate and then again in February to make any agreed amendments.

Proposed budget savings amounts by portfolio for 2019/2020:

Children's social care - £0

Culture, leisure and sport - £347,000

Education - £70,000

Environment and community safety - £489,900

Health and social care - £966,000

Housing - £228,000

Planning, regeneration and economic development - £435,000

Resources - £1,358,000

Traffic and transportation - £105,000