Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To agree the 2015/16 – 2017/18 Savings
consultation document within the Medium Term Financial Plan
The Chief Executive introduced a report on the medium term financial plan 2015 – 18 and the associated budget propositions for public consultation. Cabinet were reminded of the context in which the proposals had been prepared which would require a further £83M of savings to be delivered over the coming three years which would translate to the loss of a further 1800 jobs. The Council continued to face significant financial challenges in addition to the savings of £130M already identified which reflected reductions in central government grants as government sought to rebalance public finances. The reductions in core grant support to local government continued with latest government estimates suggesting that the national finances would not be in balance until 2019/20. The Council needed to take into account likely levels of funding as it planned its expenditure and service priorities over the medium term. Members noted that to date 75% of the savings had been delivered internally but as the pressure continued it became harder to protect public facing services. The proposals to be issued for consultation were based on a number of factors including a 2% increase in the council tax.
The strategic planning process was the process by which the Council develops and agrees its priorities (i.e. the three year Council Plan), and develops and agrees its three year Budget (for the period 2015 to 2018). Critical to this process was the engagement of all Members and effective stakeholder consultation.
The paper provided Cabinet with the proposed public consultation document and timeline which would form the basis of the public consultation element of the strategic planning process. Consultation was proposed to begin once Cabinet agreed the consultation document and would end on 20th January 2015.
The Deputy Leader thanked staff for their work over the previous six months in developing the proposals which over the period 2011-18 would see local government lose one in every four pounds. This reality resulted in things being unable to continue as they had in previous years and would lead to some services ceasing, being delivered in other ways or to lower standards. In the circumstances a move to unitary status if the government were agreeable could deliver £27M for one unitary or approx £16M savings if the county were divided into two unitary authorities and the public were encouraged to make representations to government in support of such a proposal. With the scale of the savings required there would be a need to renegotiate the relationship with the public with regards to service provision and necessary changes. The Deputy Leader encouraged the public to respond to the consultation as their input was important.
The Leader echoed the concerns expressed by the Deputy Leader and advised that were the 2% increase in council tax not approved that would require a further £1.6M savings to be delivered. He emphasised that the decision on unitary status was not in the gift of the County Council and that local government continued to take a disproportionate share of the public cuts as it had since austerity began.
The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning made the point that the public often did not see the connection between the national agenda and local circumstances but the County Council were faced with no alternative but to deliver the required savings.
RESOLVED,that the consultation document be approved for public release.
Report author: Pam Duke
Publication date: 28/10/2014
Date of decision: 23/10/2014
Decided at meeting: 23/10/2014 - Cabinet
Effective from: 05/11/2014