Bristol’s Budget Conversation – Neighbourhoods

Continuing with our promise to publish more detailed information about our budget, here are the details for the second large service area – neighbourhoods – showing how much we spend, where the money comes from, what some of the major trends and pressures are, and how our spending compares with other comparable areas.  So – if you’ve ever wondered how much it costs to empty your bins, or whether we spend less on administering housing benefit than other cities – or for all the facts and figures on parks, housing or community safety…

The Neighbourhoods department provides a wide range of services to communities in Bristol.  There are four major areas of service provision that are funded by the main council budget.

Environment & Leisure

  • Parks and sports
  • Waste collection and disposal
  • Street cleaning

Safer Bristol

  • Crime reduction and community safety (including anti-social behaviour, the emergency control centre, and closed circuit television monitoring)
  • Drug treatment strategy (working with people to overcome their addictions)
  • Youth Offending Team
  • Licensing and enforcement (includes trading standards, pollution control, StreetScene and dog wardens)

Neighbourhoods & Communities

  • Neighbourhood Partnerships (working in every neighbourhoods, taking decisions to improve your area)
  • Community development and cohesion, and voluntary/community sector investment (working to support local communities)
  • Equalities (promoting equalities within the Council and local communities)

Strategic Housing

  • Housing benefit administration
  • Private housing improvements and adaptations
  • Homelessness

The chart below shows how much Bristol City Council spends on these services from it’s main budget:

How much Bristol City Council spends on Neighbourhood services

Landlord Services

In addition, Neighbourhoods provides the landlord service to 28,000 tenancies in council houses and council flats.  This is separately funded to all other Council services and is called the Housing Revenue Account.  Some detail is provided on Landlord Services in the last section of this report.

Environment & Leisure

Parks and Sports

How much do we spend on services in Bristol Parks and Sports, and where does this money come from?

Overall each year we spend over £23 million.  Of this, £10m is received from fees, charges and trading, leaving £13m to be raised from council budgets within Neighbourhoods.

How do we spend this £13 million?

Bristol's parks and sports expenditure

How is the £23 million spent?Gross expenditure Parks and Sports

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

There are 7 parks across Bristol that have achieved Green Flag status and we won the Britain in Bloom south west award last year.  This level of spending on parks includes huge investment from the community and parks groups who give their time voluntarily working with the Council to make the City look great. There is a need to further invest in work in parks and green spaces getting paths, walls etc. up to scratch and to get parks to an acceptable standard across the City.  Reductions in capital grants has had and will have a significant impact on our ability to invest in destination sites and key historic sites.  Within Parks the South and Central ground maintenance are contracted out and North and East are covered by in-house Teams.  The Sports Centres are run by a company on behalf of the Council.  Our grant from the Government to support free swimming has been cut and so this initiative will come to an end.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Other city's parks and sports expenditure

As you can see, the table shows expenditure (per head) and Bristol ranks 7th highest of the 8 core cities.  We are spending less than average on Parks & Sports.

Waste Collection and Disposal

How much do we spend on Waste Collection and Disposal in Bristol and where does this money come from?

Overall each year we spend over £28 million.  Of this, just under £3m is received from fees and charges (including £1.2M raised from sale of recycled materials) and £25m is funded from council budgets.

How do we spend this £25 million?

Bristol's waste collection and disposal expeditureWhat issues and spending pressures are we facing?

Refuse & recycling collection is currently contracted out to SITA and is due to be re-tendered by November 2011.

The service has gone through big changes over the last few years by introducing more recycling, this has saved substantial money in not having to send the recycling materials to landfill.  Projects are being implemented to boost recycling and increase our recycling percentage up from 38%, this includes putting in communal bins in areas where customers want this service.  Budget pressures includes the increasing costs of landfill.  A new disposal contract will be awarded from April 2011.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Other city's waste collection and disposal expenditure

As you can see, the table shows expenditure (per head) in Bristol ranks 2nd highest of the core cities.  This shows that we are spending more than average on waste collection and disposal.

Street Cleaning

How much do we spend on Street Cleaning in Bristol, and where does this money come from?

Overall each year we spend over £5 million on Street Cleaning.  Of this, £0.5m is received from internal recharges and the rest from council budgets within Neighbourhoods.

How do we spend this £5 million?

The service is currently contracted out to SITA.

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

We have invested in night-time cleaning in Cabot Circus.  Spending pressures are driven by public expectations of the quality of street cleaning and removal of graffiti, fly-tipping etc.  We need to reflect the needs of each Neighbourhood Partnership and respond to their requirements which could cost more in the new contract.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Other city's street cleaning expenditure

As you can see, the table shows expenditure (per head) in Bristol ranks 2nd lowest of the core cities.  This shows that we are spending less than average on Street cleaning.

Safer Bristol

How much do we spend in Safer Bristol, and where does this money come from?

Overall Safer Bristol spends £27.8m on services.  £8.8m of this is paid for by Bristol City Council.  The remainder is funded from Partnership Contributions (£4m), Central Government Grants (£11.7m), Area Based Grant (£871k), Generated Income (£1.9m) and Contributions from Council House Tenants (HRA)  (£345k).

How do we spend this?

Overall spend on Safer Bristol servicesBristol City Council's spend on Safer Bristol servicesWhat issues and spending pressures are we facing?

A significant proportion of our grant funding is set to end on 31 March 2011.  In the current climate it is unlikely that these grants will be extended into future years.    Even where grant funding is ongoing it may be reduced and we have already experienced in year reductions in funding. Partners (like the Police) are also subject to cost pressures that may impact on funding in the future. Over the next year we will be reducing the Council’s contribution to licensing to nil, in other words, fee income will pay for the service.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

When it comes to how much we spend on different service areas, it is sometimes possible to compare how much money Bristol spends against other similar councils.  For example,

Spend per client in effective drug treatment:
(Source: http://www.nta.nhs.uk/regional.aspx)

Spend per client on effective drug treatment


Spend per head of population on Trading Standards Compared to Core Cities (Source: CiPFA Benchmarking):

Spend on Trading Standards per population head

Spend per head of population on Licensing Compared to Core Cities:
(nb: negative figures indicate the unit is income generating)

Spend on licensing per population head

Neighbourhoods and Communities

How much do we spend on Neighbourhoods and Communities, and where does this money come from?

Neighbourhoods and Communities spend a total of £6.74m on services each year.  Of this £399k comes from Central Government Grant funding and £440k comes from generated Translation and Interpreting income.  The remaining £5.45m comes from Bristol City Council Revenue funding (i.e. Council Tax).

How do we spend this £5.45 million?

Neighbourhoods and communities expenditure

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

The City has undergone unprecedented demographic change over the past few years and working with new and established communities to live successfully together is a significant area of work for us.  We will be delivering a budget reduction of between £900k – £1.2 million for 2011/12.  There is also a developing national pressure to expand use of the Community & Voluntary sector to deliver outcomes for the ‘big society’.  In addition, some grant funding may have to be cut.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Other city's community development expenditure

Strategic Housing

How much do we spend on Strategic Housing in Bristol and where does this money come from?

Overall each year we spend just under £9 million, the sources of which are detailed in each section below.

How do we spend this £9 million?

Bristol's Strategic Housing expenditureHousing Benefit Administration

How much do we spend on services in Housing Benefit Administration, and where does this money come from?

The Council net budget is £1.7m funded from the Government and Council Tax.

How do we spend this £1.7 million?

·    Processing new claims & changes
·    Dealing with appeals against decisions
·    Recovering overpayment & debts

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

Delivering a balanced budget by recovering debts owed to us.  Realising savings by streamlining all our processes.  There has been a huge rise in number of claims due to the recession.  We have dealt with this without increasing our costs, but the time taken to deal with claims has increased.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Bristol's expenditure on Housing Benefit administration only
Bristol is the lowest spender per head of population.  We are spending comparatively less than most other (non Core City) Councils.

Homelessness

How much do we spend on Homelessness in Bristol and where does this money come from?

Overall each year we spend  £1.5 million funded by Council Tax with an additional Government grant of £770k.

How do we spend this £2.2 million?

·    Prevent homelessness
·    Provide housing advice
·    Place people in temporary accommodation
·    Assist rough sleepers
·    Help people find permanent accommodation

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

If the recession gets worse more people could be threatened with homelessness.  At the same time government grant may reduce.  Future changes to Housing Benefit may also pose a risk of raising the number of householders unable to pay their rent, who may then have to leave their homes.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

Other city's Homelessness expenditure

As you can see, the table shows expenditure (per head) in Bristol ranks in the lower half of the Core Cities listings.  Bristol’s figure is based on additional specialised benchmarking of Homelessness services.

Private Housing and Adaptations

How much do we spend on Private Housing and Adaptations in Bristol, and where does this money come from?

Overall we spend £2.6 million per year which is fully funded by the Council.

How do we spend this £2.6 million?

·    Provide home adaptations to all tenures of housing
·    Fund Care & Repair to assist elderly home owners
·    Bring empty homes back into use
·    Deal with any risks to health in private housing ( eg. overcrowding, unsafe bed-sits, drainage & waste)
·    Fund loan and grant schemes to help people repair & improve their homes
·    Regulate private landlords

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

The biggest pressures are:
·    Rapidly rising need to adapt homes with limited budget, (the actual spend on homes is not included in the £2m quoted above).
·    Dealing with urgent health & safety issues like overcrowding when there is a shortage of larger homes
·    High cost of bringing long-term empty properties back into use

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

There are no nationally published figures for the work we have undertaken.  Recent cost comparison work with the other West of England Councils show that in some areas our cost are higher.  Our aims is to reduce these.  In other areas our cost are significantly lower.  We are currently undertaking a review of our adaptations service to see if we can run it more efficiently.

Landlord Services (Council Housing)

The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) is a separate account, receiving the rent paid by people who live in Bristol City Council’s council housing.  This money needs to be kept completely separate from other accounts.  Money from this account cannot be used to subsidise the General Fund (paid for by Council Tax), nor can the Council Tax fund subsidise the HRA.

2011/12 is an important year for the HRA.  We are hoping that we will hear if the review of the HRA subsidy system will be changed.  (This is the system whereby a local authority, such as Bristol, pays money into a pot to central government to redistribute to other authorities.)  As this announcement has not yet been made we are preparing our budgets in the same format as previous years.  Our draft budget for 2011/12, shows that we should have around £100m of income from day to day activities.  This comes mainly from tenants’ rents (which is set following Central Government prescribed rules), service charges, charges to leaseholders and other income.

We plan to spend:

·    £28m of this money providing services to tenants.
·    £10m will be paid in interest on our loans.
·    £7m will be are contribution to Central Government if the HRA subsidy system is not changed.  (If this system is changed we will not need to pay this sum but instead will pay a higher interest charge but this should still be smaller than the £7m.)
·    The rest of our revenue income will be spent on investing in our stock either via day to day repairs and maintenance (£27m) or to our proposed capital programme of £51m.
·    We will also use proceeds from sale of HRA assets of around £4m to help pay for this investment.

In order to invest in our stock we have been drawing on reserves accumulated in the HRA over previous years, and will continue to do so in 2011/12.  If the HRA subsidy review does not end the subsidy system, Bristol, like many other stock retained housing authorities, will not have a business plan that balances in the very near future.  If this is the case we will have to review our expenditure to ensure that we can fund it from our income.

As the HRA relates only to council housing the conversation regarding our budget for next year will be happening directly with those tenants.

Summary

We hope you’ve found these full and detailed breakdowns of our spending helpful – along with the comparisons to how much we spend alongside other similar Councils.  Do you have any suggestions, ideas or challenges for where we should look most closely at spending less or raising more income?

Please give us your ideas and suggestions

We hope you’ll find this useful in helping you give us your thoughts and ideas around our four big questions:

  • Which services, if any, should we consider delivering at a reduced level or even ceasing altogether?
  • Which services might be better provided by other bodies, such as the voluntary sector, or with others, such as the NHS or neighbouring councils?
  • Do you have any other ideas based on your experience for service areas where we could further explore saving money?
  • Are there any service areas from which we should aim to raise more income?

Leave a comment below for the public conversation.

If you prefer to make a private submission of your views, please click here.

50 thoughts on “Bristol’s Budget Conversation – Neighbourhoods

  1. Pingback: Parklife | Bristol Community Organisers

  2. I would like to know why sale of recycle items raises a mere £1.2m per year. Could the council provide a break-up for this figure?

    In my view, a lot more can be salvaged from the household waste recycle centres than is actually been.

  3. Is there any reason that we cannot have a fully working recycling centre like those in Devon (particularly in Newton Abbott) where items are brought in by members of the public and sold on for a small price, thus increasing the amount of rubbish recycled by the city, reducing landfill fees and providing people with cheap, reusable items.
    Also more local skip days on the same days every year these were very popular in St.pauls and help to keep our areas clean and pleasant.

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