Budget Consultation 2018/19

Closed 19 Jan 2018

Opened 14 Dec 2017

Overview

Every year the Council has to agree a balanced budget – this means 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 the income we receive from central government reduces we either need to reduce our spending, which could involve changes to the services we provide, or find new sources of income.

To address the decline in income the Council receives from central government we will need to deliver savings to address a funding gap of around £3m over the next three years (2018/19 to 2020/21).  This is in addition to delivering savings of approximately £1m during 2018/19. In 2017/18 we set a revenue budget of £14.6million, including £11.9m of recurring expenditure - so you can see the size of the challenge.

Although we remain committed to ensuring front-line services are protected as much as possible, we nevertheless 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 that our customers and partners expect.  We have already made savings of over £6m between 2013/14 and 2017/18 through cuts to staffing and management costs, and making services and processes more efficient. However, despite these achievements we need to do more to find savings or increase our income.

We want your views to help us make decisions when we come to set our budget for 2018/19. 

In 2017/18 our revised revenue budget (the amount we spend on services less the income we receive from fees and charges and grants to meet the cost of particular items of expenditure) was £14.6 million. This came from a number of sources as shown in the chart below. Approximately 80% of our funding comes from Council Tax and Business Ratepayers (NNDR). Only around 20% of funding now comes from central government grants.  This income from central government is shrinking. In 2013/14 the Council received Revenue Support Grant of £4.8m. By 2017/18 this had reduced to around £1.06m.

Over the next three years (2018/19 to 2020/21) it is anticipated that central government grants will decreased further. This will include cessation of the Council’s Revenue Support Grant which, in 2017/18 provided over £1m of funding. 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 facing the Council we developed a four year Self-Sufficiency Plan (2018/19 will be the fourth 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.

In 2018/19 savings of around £420k will need to be delivered through the self-sufficiency plan.

Why We Are Consulting

The Council consults regularly with the public. The results of these consultations inform the Council’s priorities - set out in the Council Plan - and the financial plans that 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, carried out in 2016, 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.

Full details of the survey are available on our website.

To supplement the feedback we received from the residents’ survey and help us make decisions when we come to set our budget for 2018/19 we are seeking your views on the following matters: 

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

Areas

  • Allerdale

Audiences

  • All residents

Interests

  • Council finances