Council sets out budget plans

18 January 2017

A report to next week’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee sets out the Council’s proposed budget for the coming financial year and budget plans for 2018-20.
 
It outlines the Council’s financial position as it enters the second year of its four-year plan, Helping the Borough Thrive, which sets out the Council’s priorities and spending plans for the period 2016-20.
                                                                                                   
The report details how the general fund revenue budget of £271,276,000 for 2017-18 will be directed towards achieving the Council’s agreed priority outcomes against a challenging financial backdrop.
 
The Council faces a funding gap of £42,570,000 in the coming three years due to reduced central government funding. Of this, £13,327,000 must be saved in 2017-18.
 
Council tax bills could rise by around £1 per week under proposals to tackle this shortfall while protecting the services most valued by Cheshire West residents.
 
This increase comprises a two per cent increase for adult social care, and 1.99 per cent for general Council services, resulting in a 3.99 per cent increase in total.
 
This would result in a standard Band D Council Tax rate of £1,379.02 which is a rise of £52.91 on the 2016-17 rate.
 
This would generate an additional £6,155,000 of which £3,085,000 would go towards the growing financial pressures in adult social care.
 
By 2020 the Revenue Support Grant – the biggest source of money for local government which is not ring-fenced – will be reduced to nil, alongside significant reductions in other central government grants.
 
The budget report outlines the Council’s progress on becoming financially independent of central government and moving towards an increased reliance on income from council tax and business rates.
 
In the report, Councillor David Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Legal and Finance, says the proposed budget focuses on delivering key outcomes for residents within the resources available.
 
Councillor Armstrong said: “Over the next three years there will continue to be a significant shift in the way in which the Council is funded, resulting in reduced Government funding and an increased reliance on locally generated income in the form of business rates and council tax. Whilst the budget continues the Council’s philosophy of good financial management, it contains a number of challenging savings targets to meet the reductions in Central Government funding.
 
“The longer term view the council is taking to its financial planning means increased certainty for residents about the services the Council will provide over the coming years, and how those services will be funded.”
 
Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be asked to make recommendations to Cabinet, which meets on 1 February. Final proposals will be considered at the Council’s annual budget setting meeting on 23 February.

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