Residents encouraged to set spending by trying out budget simulator

13th December 2019, 9:57am | By Ros Griffiths |

Residents can take the hot seat and have a go at setting Wiltshire Council’s budget for 2020/2021 with a new online interactive tool.

The council has launched a budget simulator so residents say where they think the money should be spent, how savings can be made and suggest ways of bringing in more income.

The simulator does not give a full representation of local government finance, but it will provide residents with an insight into the difficult decisions councillors make when setting a legal budget.

The budgets and feedback received from the budget simulator will be used to shape the council’s budget proposals for 2020/21.

They will also be shared in a series of Focussing on the Future public meetings the council will hold in January.

The meetings in Salisbury, Chippenham, Devizes and Salisbury will be an opportunity to discuss how the council is changing to provide the services that taxpayers expect and need both now and in the years ahead.

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “Since becoming a unitary council in 2009 we have made efficiencies from every single corner of the organisation.

“Due to increasing demand, we are spending more on some services year on year and setting the budget is always challenging. Our task is to try and balance the priorities that affect everyone, along with the issues that only impact some people.

“Care for older people, keeping vulnerable adults and children safe are council priorities. But they may not directly affect everyone. Other important issues such as roads, waste and recycling collections, and keeping the streets clean and tidy affect more people all the time.

“The budget simulator is a new interactive tool to engage council tax payers in not only understanding the financial challenges we are facing but having a say in what we can do or should do.

“I would urge people to go online, take the time to have a go at balancing the budget using the simulator and tell us their priorities.”

Since 2017/18, the council has saved around £67 million by working more efficiently and prioritising services but estimates a further £15 million must be saved next year.

Demand for services continues to grow, especially in social care, at a higher rate than the current budget. This means strong financial planning is vital, as well as a programme of transformation, digitisation and commercialisation. Wiltshire Council has also pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030 and its councillors have agreed to seek to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030.

The budgets and feedback received from the budget simulator will be used to shape the council’s budget proposals for 2020/21.

You can have a go at balancing the budget here before the consultation closes on 3 January 2020.

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