MORE than £142 million will be spent by Swindon Borough Council in the next financial year, starting in April.

That’s the overall figure for the budget proposals put forward to the authority’s Conservative cabinet when it meets on Wednesday.

Council taxpayers will be asked to pay 3.99 per cent more next year than this, before parish councils add their precepts, with two per cent of that increase being specially set aside to fund the increasing costs of adults’ social care. The increase equates to £4.37 extra per month on the average bill.

Those who pay the council fees and charges – such as for licenses, or planning applications, or even to use leisure facilities, will be asked to pay five per cent more.

Russell Holland, the member for finance who will present the report says: “Alongside increasing demands for services, councils nationally have seen cumulative reductions in Government funding since 2010-11. The total value of savings contained within the budget is more than double that identified for 2018/19.

This provides a source of risk to the council’s financial position for 2019/20. The council also faces risks in managing the costs associated with the major demand-led services, particularly in adult and children’s social care.

“The investment of funding and resources to manage pressures in adult social care during 2017/18 and the significant investment in children’s social care proposed in this budget, provides some mitigation. But these services will continue to be a potential challenge to the council’s financial position.”

A spark of good news is that the overspend on this year’s budget is expected to be less than feared, dropping by £1.1m to an expected deficit of £1.3m.

This has partly been achieved by savings of £900,000 made by the adults’ social care team, but is offset by a £300,000 increase in overspending by children’s services.

Unlike this year’s budget, where £2.8m was used from the council’s reserves to support day to day spending, no reserves are earmarked for next year. As in the past, services like social care, and children’s services – provisions the council must provide by law – take up the lion’s share of the £142m.

In this year’s budget, adults’ services spent £84.5m, with children’s services costing £34.2m and communities and housing, which includes libraries, parks and gardens and highways costing £26.1m. Most spending increases are directed to adults’ and children’s social services.

Nearly £2.5m has been allocated for more independent fostering places, with £2.3m for residential places and the same amount for supported living and £1.6m to recruit more social workers to work with disabled children. That’s an increase on this year’s budget of just over £8m.

Another £4.5m has been budgeted for adult’s social care- the challenge for the council is that finding, and funding care places and beds for adults is ‘demand-led’ – it’s difficult to predict at the start of the year how many more elderly or vulnerable people will need care.

While savings of £30,000 suggested at Coate Water Park have been dropped, other well-loved Swindon institutions are in line to have funding reduced – two items suggesting reorganisations at Steam Museum and Lydiard House and park are anticipated to save £132,000 and £20,000 is to come out of Swindon Art Gallery and Museum’s budget next year. If approved, the budget will be voted on by the full council on February 21.