Cornwall Council Budget update
Cornwall Council Budget update, based on Cabinet vote Wednesday. They will be recommending approval to Full Council on 25 November.
Since 2010 the Council has been forced to find savings of £170m in its budget as a result of cuts in Government funding. It now needs to save a further £196m over the next four years. The Council has a legal duty to balance the budget and cannot increase council tax more than 2%, to increase income, unless a referendum is held and the majority of people in Cornwall vote for an increase. The referendum rules state the question would be decided by Eric Pickles, the Council is not allowed to seek to influence how people vote and it cannot take place until May, after all the bills have been sent out and the financial year has begun. Not an easy referendum to win.
At Cabinet, Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard said “This is not the budget we want to present to people in Cornwall but it is the best we can produce in these challenging financial circumstances which are not of our making. Our key aims are to reshape the organisation to deliver services in a different way and strengthen our partnerships with the rest of the public and community sector in order to make as many savings as possible without cuts to frontline services.”
Based on all the public consultation feedback and further work by officers and Councillors some changes have been agreed by the Cabinet and will be put forward to the Full Council, later this month. The main changes are:
- Increasing the Adult Social care budget by £3.8m to cover the previous year’s overspend thereby protecting services to the most vulnerable.
- Reducing the level of savings required from the Discretionary Rate Relief scheme which provides business rate relief support for charities and non profit making organisations from £800,000 to £400,000 in 2017/2018. This will help minimise the impact on charities and clubs which work with the most vulnerable people in Cornwall
- Protecting the rural bus network which helps local residents to access education, employment and social activities across Cornwall
- Reducing the funding to voluntary and community organisations by £400,000 to reflect the work which is taking place to reduce duplication and operating costs by sharing staff and buildings, develop a new way of commissioning services and the potential for funding from the Government’s £320m Transformation Challenge Fund.
- Increasing the efficiency savings and income from Community Safety by £413,000
- Delaying the implementation of the School Crossing Patrols savings to enable a comprehensive risk assessment to be carried out.
- Increasing savings from waste budget by £210,000 over the four years mainly from additional income from the energy to waste contract but with some reduction to the opening hours at Household Waste Recycling Centres.
- Through working in partnership with the RNLI we have agreed a new contract which will maintain the same level of lifeguard cover on the 57 beaches supported by the Council with a reduced contribution of £950,000.
- Increasing savings from the Transport and Waste budget by £324,000 in 2017/2018 . This will be delivered by savings from the development of an integrated transport network for Cornwall and improvements from investment from the Government’s Growth Deal
- Additional £1.7m savings from the paybill as the result of collective agreement in relation to contribution related pay
- Using reserves to support the budget to allow time for the significant structural changes to be implemented and new models of service delivery to be developed. In particular this will allow additional time to work with local communities and town and parish councils to develop alternative models for libraries and help the private sector to develop a sustainable model for the tourism promotion activities led by Visit Cornwall over the longer term.