Council tax on the Isle of Wight will remain frozen for a third successive year.
The freeze was approved at the Full Council meeting (27 February) alongside a range of steps designed to help local households meet the rising cost of living and to stimulate the local economy.
Council leader David Pugh (pictured) said careful budget management had enabled the council to not only keep council tax at 2011/12 levels but also to continue to introduce initiatives that would benefit residents and the economy.
He told the meeting: “We have the opportunity tonight to freeze council tax for the third year running, and in doing so ensure that we protect Island residents from a further increase in the cost of living. This is the responsible thing to do.
“We have steered the council through the most challenging financial period it has ever faced, and have ensured that we are well prepared for the further decisions of the future.
“The local authority has a clear path for achieving further savings and allowing additional resources to be invested in support of the local economy. At the same time we have set out how we are helping Island households, not least through a third year of a council tax freeze.”
Initiatives agreed include:
· keeping parking charges at the same level for the fifth year running;
· using grant funding of almost £450,000 to address fuel poverty and help householders reduce their energy bills;
· pledging to introduce additional schemes to help Island residents onto the housing ladder;
The council is also proposing an additional £60,000 of local funds to support the innovative community bus scheme over the next financial year.
· allocating £300,000 to continue with the award-winning pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship schemes, including expanding these opportunities into new employment sectors and for residents with learning and physical disabilities;
· staging another Careers and Jobs Fair, following a successful inaugural event in November 2012;
· an ongoing commitment to deliver Superfast Broadband across the Island, with £3m of council investment, to establish our community as a major growth area for the digital economy;
· continuing support for the council’s ambitious plan to establish a Solent Ocean Energy Centre – a testing and demonstration facility for tidal power – off St Catherine’s Point with the potential to create renewable energy and up to 600 jobs in the Solent region.
The budget also proposes that investment in adult social care is increased by £8.7m over the next three years and an additional £475,000 is made available to help improve child safeguarding and improve services for vulnerable children.
This investment is proposed against the backdrop of the council needing to deliver £7 million of savings during the next financial year because all of which will be met from reduced office costs.
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