We want to hear the opinions of all residents, partner organisations, businesses and other interested parties as part of the budget setting process.
Peterborough City Council has seen its government grant cut by nearly 50 per cent in the six years up to the end of 2016/17 – that’s £54million.
We expect grants to be reduced further by £7.5million next year, however we await confirmation from the government about the level of funding we will receive to provide services. Therefore there remains uncertainty as to the amount of government grant Peterborough will receive in 2017/18 and onwards.
Our current estimate is that we will need to find savings and efficiencies of £19million next year to balance our books, or generate additional income to offset the reduction in our budget while protecting services for residents.
We will continue to invest in the city to ensure it is a great place to live, work, visit and stay. We also remain committed to delivering improved efficiency ahead of any reduction to services. In the 2016/17 budget there were no reductions to services, despite increasing pressure on services and severely reduced government funding. In fact, there were a number of investments in services including subsidised bus routes, street cleansing, a city-wide spring clean and parks.
The first round of proposals, published on Friday 28 October 2016, sets out how the council is proposing to meet next year’s budget gap. The proposals include £10million savings and use of reserves to bridge the remaining gap. These reserves are the result of savings made in previous years which have been carried forward to support in future rounds of budget planning.
However, the council will look to make further savings in the second phase of the budget setting process in the New Year - money which will be held in reserves to help close budget gaps in future years.
To be clear, we still have tough challenges ahead. However, with a clear vision for the future and careful financial management we believe we will see the city continue to develop into the strong and vibrant community we all want.
The council is also recommending a four per cent rise in council tax, which includes an Adult Social Care Precept of two per cent. We have frozen council tax for four out of the past six years and we cannot continue to do so with dwindling government grants and ever increasing demands on services.
The additional council tax will help to ensure we can provide the services that our residents need, whilst also helping to reduce the size of the budget deficit in future years.
In 2016/17 an Adult Social Care Precept was introduced by government as part of the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement. Local authorities were given the flexibility to levy an extra two per cent ‘precept’ on residents to fund the increasing demands for Adult Social Care. This money can only be spent on Adult Social Care, and must continue to be spent on Adult Social Care in the future.
Government expects all local authorities to levy the Adult Social Care Precept, and in 2016/17, 95 per cent of councils with responsibility for Adult Social Care did so.
Despite the planned increase, residents will continue to pay one of the lowest rates of council tax rates in the country. Out of 56 unitary authorities across the country, Peterborough currently has the fifth lowest council tax.
We need your help
As part of our city-wide budget consultation we want to understand your views on the first phase budget proposals.
It is important to add that with so many savings to find, our room for manoeuvre is very limited and it is unlikely that everyone will get the exact outcome they would like.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please take a few minutes to complete the budget consultation survey. It really is important that we have the views of as many people as possible before making final decisions.
Comments received up to 5pm on Thursday 1 December 2016 will be considered by Cabinet on Monday 5 December 2016.
The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016. Council will consider the phase one proposals on Wednesday 14 December 2016.