How are we balancing the books?
These are very tough times for local government as there is less and less money coming to us from central government. We also face rising costs and ever increasing demands for vital services, particularly those supporting the elderly and most vulnerable people in our local communities.
Whilst we support the overall economic strategy of reducing the national deficit, the reductions in our central Government funding mean that this year we have had to make savings of £15 million to balance the books, on top of savings of £85 million over the last four years.
To achieve this, we’ve looked very carefully at what we do and how we do it.
We’ve made good progress in changing the way that we deliver services, sharing costs with other councils, reducing the Council’s running costs, increasing income and using some of our budget reserves.
This year we have had to make a prudent council tax rise, the first in four years, of 1.5% – that’s just an extra 31p per household per week (for an average band D household).
This small rise has allowed us to add some important additions to our Strategic Plan, our set of key priorities for the next four years: new objectives of combatting child sexual exploitation; and integrating the provision of NHS healthcare and local authority social care.
We know that roads are one of the most important priorities for residents and to help get our roads into better shape, we have committed to investing £60 million on road repairs as well as almost £5 million on pavement and footpath repairs up to 2018, a total of almost £65 million. This is part of our overall capital spending of £407 million over the next four years, in areas such as schools and day care services.