“I am positive we have done the best as we can to help our residents with the cost of living, under extraordinarily difficult financial circumstances”.
That is the message from the leader of the Isle of Wight Council, as the authority’s spending plans for the financial year ahead — which could include a near five per cent increase in council tax — are revealed.
The Alliance Administration’s plans could also see a new community fund created, £2 million refocused to provide affordable housing and £400,000 ring-fenced for drainage schemes to prevent flooding.
The authority has proposed using £1.2 million of its savings to cover a ‘structural deficit’.
Cllr Phil Jordan says the group has tried to reverse the cycle of cuts and has frozen parking charges, but other fees from marriages and cremations could go up.
“We worked hard in doing the best for the Island in really, really difficult financial circumstances.”
Cllr Jordan said he was disappointed with the additional £3 million, allocated by the government to the Island, when the authority’s own estimates say it costs around £23.7 million to provide services here, compared to a mainland authority.
He said the council would have been happy if the government had recognised the challenges and awarded an extra £10 million.
“Having said that,” Cllr Jordan admitted, “the money is welcome, useful and will be used correctly and prudently to address our financial predicament.”
He said a meeting is being set up between himself and local government minister Simon Hoare, to discuss the council’s financial position.
Cllr Jordan said:
“The extra money goes into the pot and gets allocated to enable us to balance our budget this year, but the biggest pressure we face is in social care, so some of that money will be utilised to help us deliver services there.
“Some of it will be used to help us rectify our structural deficit which we carry over, year-on-year and we are trying to stop that.”
Instead of that deficit standing at £3 million for 2025/26, it would be around £1 million.
Councillor Jordan claims his group will have “almost corrected” the inherited deficit.
“Over many years, our financial position has worsened, largely due to the demand for adult social care”, he said.
“You cannot go on building that deficit because each year you have to find that money”.
Explaining the proposed budget, Cllr Jordan said the authority has tried to be positive – freezing parking charges and Floating Bridge prices, and setting aside funds for community projects and business generation.
“We have done our best for residents, tried to help people, businesses and the community and we are going to provide affordable homes.”