Labour Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Finance, says: “My cabinet and council colleagues can say with certainty that we came into public life to help support our communities. The last year has been the hardest that any council has had to face since the Second World War and I’m incredibly proud of the job our borough has done in facing the challenges that a global pandemic has brought, bringing together the efforts of residents and our partners.
“We are also committed to moving forward with our plans for sustainable growth across our borough, the redevelopment of our town centres and recognising our contribution to address the impacts of climate change on our environment.
“But the impact of dealing with Covid-19, alongside continued reduction in government grants means that we are facing a huge savings target to reach. We are facing difficult decisions, ones that I wish we did not have to make, but we must balance our budget.
“I would urge you to get in touch and tell us your thoughts on our budget this year. We have asked so much of you this past year, through following guidance, supporting our businesses and looking after each other. We have adapted and opened up to working in collaboration more this year with our communities and we want this to continue. To make that happen you have to tell us what matters to you and how we can work together to support the most vulnerable and help our borough flourish.”
Demand for services such as caring for people with complex needs or supporting young people and their families continues to grow, which continues to put financial pressure on the council.
But the council has to set a balanced budget so it means assessing how to continue to provide the huge variety of services that are vital to families in our communities within the funding that the council has.
The council faces substantial funding pressures over the coming years. As part of tackling the budget gap for the next year and future years it has been reviewing how every service is delivered.
As the council delivers a range of services, some of which it has to deliver by law, it is reviewing how these can be delivered in a different way that continues to provide quality services more cost effectively. It is also reviewing services that are not required by law, but are valued by the community, and looking at options such as greater partnership working to deliver these.
There is also a renewed focus on reviewing existing contracts with providers and looking at alternative ways the council can create income through options such as advertising across the borough.
Government sets the limits for Council Tax and for next year is allowing councils to apply up to three per cent adult social care levy which will support important services like caring for those with conditions such as dementia. Alongside this the council is also allowed to add a 1.99 per cent increase on council tax, which would allow an increase of 4.99% without the need for a referendum. This would potentially raise an extra £3.9m and for approximately 85 per cent of residents it would mean less than extra 20p per day. An extra £3.9m could provide 237,000 hours of care for people living at home or support 93 children in independent foster care for the year. As part of our budget consultation we are seeking your views on any increases in council tax.