Budget 2017/18

Closed 31 Jan 2017

Opened 16 Dec 2016

Overview

Every year the Council has to agree a balanced budget – this means that we must balance our income against our expenditure.  Government grants, which used to make up a significant proportion of our income, have been reducing year on year.  The simple fact is that as we receive less and less income from central government then we either need to make savings, which could involve changes to the services we provide, or find new sources of income to make our budget balance.

To address the decline in income the Council receives from central government we will need to deliver a programme of savings totaling £3.55million over the four financial years 2015/16 to 2018/19. This includes making savings of £1.7m during 2017/18 and 2018/19. In 2016/17 our budget was £16.5million, including £12.2m of recurring expenditure - so you can see the size of the challenge.

We have some tough decisions to make about the level of service we can continue to provide and how we can generate more income. Our aim is to be as efficient as possible whilst maintaining a level of service our customers and partners expect and deserve.  Between 2013/14 and 2016/17 the Council has made budget savings of over £5.2m through cuts to staffing and management costs and making services and processes more efficient. But we still have to do more to find savings or increase our income to make the budget balance.

We want your views to help us make decisions when we come to set our budget for 2017/18. 

Balancing the budget - the challenges

In 2016/17 our revised revenue budget was £16.5 million. This was financed from a number of sources: Government grants (22%), Reserves (9%), Council Tax (40%) and Business Rates (29%). Approximately 70% of our funding is collected from Council Tax and Business Ratepayers (NNDR).  22% of our funding comes from central government grants.  This income from central government is shrinking. In 2013/14 central government grants amounted to £5.3m. By 2016/17 this had reduced to around £3.6m.

Over the next three years it is anticipated that central government grants will have decreased further. This will include a reduction of £1.5m in the Council’s Revenue Support Grant. As a consequence, by 2019/20, central government grants will account for only 11% of the Council’s funding requirement. This reduction in central government grants will mean the Council will become increasingly reliant on the income from Council Tax and Business Rates to fund the services it provides.

To address the financial challenges created by the reductions in central government funding we have developed a four year Self-Sufficiency Plan (2017/18 will be the third year of this plan) to set out how we will address the resulting financial gap by putting forward solutions for increasing our income and making savings. This Self-Sufficiency Plan sets out key areas that we will focus on, these are:

  • Economic Growth –  ensuring we get the best return on our assets and investments and promoting Allerdale as a great place to live, work and visit to bring more businesses and people to the area   
  • Operational Efficiencies – finding ways to make our services and processes more efficient (such as through investment in new technology)
  • Service Delivery – introducing charges in some areas and making savings in others

To balance our budget the self-sufficiency plan will require us to deliver savings – in addition to those already made - of approximately £0.9m in 2017/18.

The Council will also need to make further significant savings in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

This is clearly a challenge for us, but we are determined to ensure that front-line services are protected as much as possible.

Why We Are Consulting

The Council consults regularly with the public. The results of these consultations are used to inform the Council’s priorities - set out in the Council Plan - and the financial plans which underpin it.  Consultations include a major biennial survey of residents carried out by an independent organisation on the Council’s behalf. The latest residents’ survey was carried out in 2016 and covered a number of issues important to the budget process. These included:

  • the Council services residents deemed most important and most in need of improvement
  • the services which residents would like to see more of and which they would like to see less of in the future
  • the level of support for various methods the Council could adopt to help it to reduce costs and/ or increase income
  • whether residents would be prepared for the Council's share of Council Tax to go up to protect services.

To supplement the feedback we received from the residents’ survey and help us make decisions when we come to set our budget for 2017/18 we are seeking your views on the following matters: 

  • setting next year’s Council Tax
  • increasing fees and charges

The deadline for responses to this consultation is 31st January 2017.

Areas

  • Allerdale

Audiences

  • All residents

Interests

  • Financial Services