What the new council budget means for Portsmouth

PROPOSALS on how council cash will be used over the next year were approved at yesterday's full council meeting.

Portsmouth City Council's portion of council tax will rise by 4.49 per cent for 2019/20
Portsmouth City Council's portion of council tax will rise by 4.49 per cent for 2019/20

Apart from an amendment to reconsider the future of council-owned Victory Energy, all plans set aside by the Lib Dem administration were agreed by councillors.

As a result city residents will see the council's portion of council tax rise by 4.49 per cent in the 2019/20 financial year. Most of this was attributed to inflation by council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson. However, 1.5 per cent of this increase will be raised specifically for adult social care.

It was also agreed that care leavers in the city would now be exempt from paying council tax until the age of 25 and that landlords of empty properties would be hit with higher bills depending on how long their sites were left vacant.

And means of making savings of £4m for the year were approved.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: '93 per cent of all the savings identified in the revenue budget are from extra income and from efficiencies, not from cuts to services.'

It is predicted that savings of £2.5m will be needed the following year.

Several capital investments were included in the budget.

Approval was given for the controversial new dementia facility on the site of Edinburgh House, which is due to close in October this year, in a bid to improve independence for those with the disease.

For Cllr Vernon-Jackson the budget reflected the results of a public consultation held last year. He said: 'This is a budget that listens to the views of local residents. It is a budget that cares for the most vulnerable in our city.

'It delivers a sound and competent financial strategy. We could all wish for more money from the Government, and we must all remember to push the Government for proper funding for Portsmouth.

'But working within the financial limits we have this is a fair, caring and competent budget to deliver for the people of this great city.'

Other investments include £15m for shipping company MMD and £300,000 to refurbish the Methodist chapel in Brougham Road used by Arts Space Portsmouth.