Cornwall Council will set its budget today
Cornwall Council will set its budget today, at Full Council. In addition to the budget worked on and proposed by the Cabinet, the Conservative group are proposing an amendment that reduces Council tax and the Labour group have an amendment that alters spending priorities a little.
Link to Full Council Agenda Papers When using this link, the budget proposed by the Cabinet is item 8.1. The Conservative and Labour group amendments are at the top, under supplementary pack – alternative budget.
The Conservative amendment proposes that the Council raises Council tax by 3.99% instead of 4.99% meaning that those in a Band D property might expect to pay almost £14 per year less. This would reduce the amount the Council has to spend on services by almost £11.5m over the next 4 years, at a time that the Government are continuing to cut our funding. They are suggesting we put less money into our budget for attracting funding into Cornwall whether for roads, heritage, environmental or other major infrastructure and economic projects. When applying for major grants, it is necessary to put some local money but the result is usually an ability to pull in far more money to invest in Cornwall. We are asking Officers what projects might be put at risk if we did not have the match funding.
On the surface, the Labour amendment will seen sensible as they want to spend more on childrens’ services. They propose taking the money from roads and reserves. However, the photo of pages in a document to Councillors saying what the public thought we should spend more or less money on does not seem to support this amendment.
If you are struggling with reading the numbers, people were given the amount in every £100 that the Council currently spends in certain areas. They were then invited to tell us where they would spend more of the £100 and where less. Currently we spend £26 in every £100 on Children and the public have proposed reducing that to £19. Currently we spend £6 in every £100 on maintaining roads, street lights and public transport and the public suggested this should increase to £9. So, the Labour amendment seems to be the opposite of what the public told us.
Labour are also suggesting taking money out of reserves, again, tempting. However, our section 151 Officer, who by law must advise us on the legality and prudence of our budget, has told us that what the Cabinet has proposed in reserves is at the limit of prudence (so only just safe) so to remove a further £1.3m would make this unsafe. This seems particularity unwise when we know how costly clearing up after storms is and evidence would suggest that there will be more extreme weather events. The other worry with this budget is it is suggesting the spending on Children is from various other savings or raising more income without any evidence that the savings or increased revenue sums are achievable.
Anyone wanting to watch the webcast of the budget date can do so today or anytime after the meeting. Webcasts of Council meetings