Peterborough City Council plans to prioritise future generations in order to deliver a balanced budget next year.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday, 15 October, the council will set out its approach for the delivery of a sustainable budget over the next three years. Members will hear how the council’s new three tranche budget process has successfully quickened the pace of savings to ensure they deliver this financial year, by April 2019.
However, continued cuts to the council’s funding, inflation and huge demand pressures caused by providing good children’s social services and providing for an ageing population mean the council is being asked to do much more, with much less money.
In its Tranche Two budget proposals, Peterborough City Council knew it needed to find another £10m of savings, but increasing numbers of residents requiring children’s and adult services has now raised this figure to £14.5m. This is the sixth consecutive year of Government cuts to Peterborough City Council’s government grant which been has reduced by over 80 per cent wiping off over £45m from the budget.
In order to meet these challenges, the council wants to continue to drive efficiencies through closer working with Cambridgeshire County Council and other local authorities, transfer more assets into community ownership and make some changes to the amount of support it can provide to city residents.
Like a household budget, it intends to tighten the purse strings, focus on what’s important and take a close look at where it can make more savings.
Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Through sharing services with nearby authorities like Cambridgeshire County Council and remodeling teams to make sure they work in the most effective way possible, we are continuing to drive efficiencies.
“After nearly a decade of government cuts, we, like every other council in England and Wales are having to tighten our purse strings and make difficult decisions. We need to focus on what really matters, protecting vulnerable people and prioritise spending on areas that will ensure Peterborough is still a place to be proud of in the future. Education, clean streets and protecting our cities infrastructure and growth will ensure we are not letting down future generations.”
The council now spends the vast majority of its budget on the statutory requirements of providing additional school places, plus adults and children’s social care services. Peterborough is the fourth fastest growing city, with lots of younger school age residents. Also, like all councils across the country, the number of children in care is going up, as is the unprecedented level of support needed to care for an ageing population.
Savings proposed in Tranche Two include:
- Continuing shared working with other local authorities
- Changing teams and services to drive efficiencies
- Reviewing home-to-school transport costs to make savings
- Building and leasing additional temporary accommodation for homeless families
- Transferring assets to partners and communities
- Reducing the hours operated by iCash sexual health services and encouraging women to get repeat contraceptive prescriptions from a GP.
- Repairing Rhubarb Bridge, rather than demolishing
- Use highways spending more effectively by only repairing whole roads and footpaths and stop expensive short-term patching
- Reducing subsidies for the least-used bus routes
- Reducing spend on premium nursing/residential homes and block purchasing beds
- Helping older people to stay in their own homes as long as possible to reduce the cost in more expensive support
- Reviewing our external contracts to make sure we are getting the best value for money
Some of the key proposals to raise money include:
- Create a Local Authority Trading Company to allow council to sell services to others
- Improve council tax collection rates
- Increase rental income from some council assets
- Ensure that necessary fines are paid - such as ones for school absences, or for anti-social behaviour
Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources said: “We are continuing to deliver a balanced budget and reduce the overall budget gap. Our prudent approach of considering the budget throughout the year is working and this has quickened the pace of delivering savings.
“We will continue to watch the Government’s progression of its Fairer Funding Review closely, however the uncertainty that all local authorities are facing requires us to find new ways of meeting our statutory obligations, while protecting the areas that are essential for our city to continue to develop for years to come.”
Have your say
Following the publication of the Tranche Two proposals, members of the public can get involved by reading the Tranche Two budget document and completing an online consultation questionnaire with their views.
Hard copies of the budget proposals document and questionnaire will be available at Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and in each of the city’s libraries by the formal launch of the consultation at 9am on Monday, 8 October..
Cabinet will consider the proposals at its meeting on Monday, 15 October.
Comments received up to 5pm on Friday, 30 November, will be considered by Cabinet on Monday, 3 December.
The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday, 10 December. Full Council will consider the proposals on Wednesday 12 December 2018.