A report providing a detailed picture of the council’s finances over the next five years, as well as outlining strategies to meet the continuing impact of the pandemic, will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on 13 October.
The medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) report provides a detailed picture of the cost of delivering services alongside the expected scale of demand and projected income. This provides us with an estimated budget gap – requiring the council to identify options that will deliver savings or generate additional income across all areas of council activity.
While keeping up with the changing demands of the pandemic, and providing key services, the council has worked hard to review spending commitments and identify savings. Lower borrowing costs account for the most significant proportion of savings, however cancelling key events and finding savings on recruitment, training, travel and supplies have been made, which together amounted to a reduction in spend of more than £3m last year.
Despite the extra measures taken, the modelling set out in the MTFS shows we need to make permanent savings of £10.6m over the next four years. Also included in the 2022-23 projections, is £1.5m of short-term pressures related to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the council’s income streams, such as car parking and rental income.
The council has identified several provisional themes that underpin the approach to addressing the medium-term financial challenge. These themes are detailed in the report and will form the basis of proposed budget options, which will be subject to public consultation later this year. They build on a number of the actions set out in the Covid-19: A Blueprint for Recovery*, such as building on our model of wholly-owned companies and reimagining our services.
Councillor Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for corporate resources, said:
“We can be proud of how we’ve risen to the challenges and demands of the pandemic. Proving ourselves as key delivery partners in the government’s response, quickly realigning and reimagining our services to support those most in need, as well as identifying savings to cope with increased demand and reduced income.
As the country attempts to navigate through the longer-term impacts of Covid-19, local authorities – being closest to communities – have a vital role to play in community and economic recovery. In order to do this, councils need sustainable, sufficient funding and the flexibility to plan their finances in a way that suits their local circumstances and needs.”
Budget next steps
- Officers continuing to develop and refine savings options, growth requirements and capital proposals – ongoing
- Government’s 3-year Spending Review – October
- Draft budget options to Cabinet for consideration before the end of 2021
- Consultation period for the proposed budget options – late 2021 – early 2022
- Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement – Date to be confirmed (assuming December)
- Budget Scrutiny, Cabinet and Council in February 2022