COUNCIL PUBLISHES BUDGET PROPOSALS FOR 2015-16
BUDGET PROPOSALS aimed at protecting core frontline services, targeting people in greatest need, making financial assets work harder and transforming service delivery have been published by Cambridge City Council today (7 January).
The council’s budget setting report sets out proposals which, if approved by councillors, will form the basis of its budget for 2015-16.
The report proposes reducing earmarked reserves, which in October stood at £24m, by £12.1m. Much of this money would be better used to invest in income-generating activities that will help to secure the council’s financial future.
Proposals for investments, including the council’s property portfolio, are projected to achieve extra income of £650k per year from 2016-17 onwards.
The report also sets out proposals for achieving the savings target of £1.22m in 2015-16 and making significant contributions to the overall savings target of £6m over five years.
A significant element of the savings requirement arises from the reduction in core funding to the council from the government which has gone down by 40% since 2010-11.
In this year alone that funding reduced by 15.1% to £6.9m and the council is planning for continued annual reductions in core funding of around 13% per year. Other factors such as increased costs, for example in energy, and continued low interest rates also contribute to the need to make savings.
The report proposes using some of the £12.1m from earmarked reserves to develop new, more efficient ways of delivering services.
Services such as waste collection, ICT and legal services are already set to be shared with neighbouring councils which reduces operational costs. Opportunities for more sharing will be explored in the future.
Meanwhile, the day-to-day management of the council’s cultural venues, Cambridge Folk Festival and outdoor events programme will be delivered by a new, not-for-profit cultural trust, Cambridge Live, from April.
Proposals are also being developed for a new approach to managing tourism services through a new “destination management organisation” that would reduce the council’s costs further.
The report also proposes a range of initiatives including:
- A lump sum investment in the Sharing Prosperity Fund in addition to a range of anti-poverty projects;
- Funding a Domestic Violence Co-ordinator;
- A new youth engagement project to involve young people in the running of their city;
- Greater enforcement against bad landlords in the private rented sector;
- Continued investment in bringing empty homes back into use.
The budget setting report also proposes an increase of just under 2% in Council Tax which for an average band D property would mean an extra £3.46 per year.
Cllr George Owers, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “Our budget proposals are about creating a fairer city and that means prioritising those people who are in most need of our services and support.
“We are proposing a comprehensive three-year budget strategy that will not only achieve our savings target for 2015-16 but also make a very significant contribution to the savings target for subsequent years.
“We have carried out a fundamental review of the council’s financial position including the capital plan and our reserves. Our budget proposals are founded on keeping our reserves at sensible levels, making investments that will bring in income to help pay for services and by providing services in different and more efficient ways.
“With government funding set to reduce year-on-year we need to be innovative if we are to protect those frontline services that the most disadvantaged in our city rely on.
“Being flexible in the way we do things, sharing services with other councils and making the most of the assets we have available to us, are all key parts of our strategy to keep on providing good quality services and to balance our budget.”
The council’s budget setting report will be discussed at Strategy and Resources Committee on 19 January. A meeting of the full council will decide whether to approve the recommendations in the report on 26 February.