The 2021/22 Budget has now been approved.

The Cabinet made a number of changes to the initial proposals to include more investment into services our communities value the most. These final proposals were considered and approved at the Adjourned Meeting of the Council last night.

When the initial budget proposals were drawn up a number of financial pressures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic were identified. Since then, we have received further funding from Government in the current financial year to help cover some of these costs. This has enabled us to remove the contingency we had in place for Covid-19 related costs for adult social care, children’s social care and home to school transport.

The improvements we are undertaking within Children’s Services are also resulting in better outcomes for our children and young people. They are also continuing to bring financial benefits and we are predicting a £4m underspend this year.

All these things combined mean that investment can be made into initiatives that improve our partnership working and that have longer-term benefits for our whole community. The 2021/22 budget includes the following:

Investing in Torbay’s economy:
• 150k to dredge Brixham Harbour so larger fishing vessels can be accommodated
• £50k to replace Paignton Seafront festoon lighting with an up to date alternative
• £250k to kick start capital projects in Torbay. It follows successful bids to the Town Deal and Future High Streets Fund
• £500k to deliver the Economic Repositioning Plan to help our local economy recover as quickly as possible from the impacts of COVID-19

Investing in Torbay’s people:
• 700K to support children and families with complex and challenging needs in their home communities
• £300k for residents facing financial hardship
• £60k over 3 years to implement our Sports Strategy which will focus on physical and mental health and wellbeing, especially in young people. We also want to support Torbay clubs that have not been able to access funding for many years
• £150k to invest in subsidising local bus services
• No increase in car park fees for the coming year which will benefit both our businesses and our residents.

Investing in tackling climate change:
• £150k investment over 3 years to develop and deliver a tree planting scheme. This includes a supportive tree warden scheme and getting communities involved
• We want to help you make energy efficient changes in your homes through a new portal
• There will be funding for other initiatives to help us become a Carbon Neutral Council.

Investing in a council fit for the future:
• Use £500k of this year’s underspend to increase our General Fund Reserve so we can deal with unexpected issues in the future
• Create a new £1.6m COVID Reserve so we can tackle the ongoing impact of the pandemic

Torbay’s Leader, Councillor Steve Darling, said: “I am pleased that our hard work in turning around Children’s Services is starting to pay off with a currently projected underspend of more than £4m.

“This means that we have been able to invest in front line services such as bus subsidies, Paignton festoon sea front lights and tackling climate change with tree planting. Sadly the Chancellor has only furnished us with a 1 year settlement for the Councils’ finances which means that we have to be financially prudent and put money aside so that we can protect front line services in the future.”

Deputy Leader, Councillor Darren Cowell, said; “We want to deliver our ambition of a thriving Torbay and turn the tide on poverty despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. This budget goes some way towards this by investing in our climate, economy and people.

“Although we have had a welcome reprieve this year, we are not out of the woods. We will do all we can to help our local communities as much as we can whilst responsibly managing the Budget.”

Council Tax levels for Torbay will be set at the meeting of the Council on 25 February 2021, because Torbay Council has to wait for notifications from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner and Brixham Town Council.

The proposal is to increase the Council’s element by 1.99%. There will also be an additional 3% to support the increasing cost of adult social care after the Government announced a continuation of the Adult Social Care precept to support the increasing cost of adult social care. Despite the rises, Torbay is still expected to have the lowest council tax in Devon. The £300k hardship fund agreed in the budget will also be available to support anyone experiencing financial hardships.

More information on the 2021/22 Budget can be seen on our website

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