Council outlines proposals to tackle £57m shortfall while protecting services valued by residents

25 January 2016

Proposals to tackle a £57,300,000 gap in Council funding largely driven by reduced central Government funding - while protecting the services most valued by Cheshire West residents - could see Council Tax bills rise by around £1 a week.

A report to this Wednesday’s (27 January) Overview and Scrutiny Committee outlines the Council’s proposed budget for 2016-17 and budget plans for 2017-20.

The proposals take into account feedback from residents and businesses received during the Let’s Talk consultation which invited views on the Council’s priorities and budget for the next four years.

A 3.99 percent Council Tax rise in 2016-17 - which comprises a 1.99 percent general increase and an additional two percent increase for adult social care - is recommended.

This would result in a standard Band D Council Tax rate of £1,326.11 which is a rise of £50.88 on the 2015-16 rate.

This would generate an additional £5,857,000, of which £2,935,000 would go towards the growing financial pressures in adult social care.

The proposal is in line with more than 100 local authorities who have been allowed to increase Council Tax by up to four percent, providing the extra money is used for adult social care.

The committee report reveals that the budget shortfall facing the authority over the next four years has grown from £47,000,000 to £57,300,000.

This is the result of an additional £10,300,000 of cuts imposed on Cheshire West and Chester Council in the Chancellor’s December settlement.

By 2021 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 to other central government grants.

In the report, Councillor David Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Finance and Legal, says that the budget aims to achieve value for money while living within the Council’s diminishing resources.

It sets out a general fund revenue budget of £272,108,000 for 2016-17 and outlines how this will be directed towards achieving the Council’s agreed key priority outcomes.

Councillor Armstrong said: “The Government is substantially cutting the amount of money it allocates to Cheshire West and Chester Council over the next four years.

“The financial challenges facing the authority are more significant than they have ever been and it is important to take a longer term view to addressing this, rather than taking short-term decisions from one year to the next.

“The feedback from the comprehensive Let’s Talk consultation has been invaluable in gathering views and will also be used to inform the budget planning process in future years.” Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be asked to make recommendations to Cabinet, which meets on 3 February. Final proposals will be considered at the annual budget setting meeting on 25 February.

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