For the last few months, the Cabinet have been working on draft proposals for the 2015 till 2018/19 budget. The message has been clear from the Council in that it will have to find a huge amount of savings. The eye-watering amount of £196m will have to be found from the Council’s budget in the next four-years. This is on top of the £170m previously saved. I have said it before, and I will say it again, services provided by the Council will change, and in some cases stop.
A £196m is an awful lot of money to have to save, and a lot of work has already been done to reach this target. Some of the saving to date have been achieved by a new agreement with staff on pay and a large-scale restructuring of senior management. Even with these and other saving already taken into account, the Council still has to find a further £156m. The reason for the saving lays firmly at the feet of the Government. As they have cut the grants to the Council to the tune of £89m in cash terms. When you add in inflation, demographic changes and demand, you get the final saving figure.
However, the Council would not be in such a difficult position if the Government treated Cornwall the same as the average urban council. If Cornwall Council was treated equally, then the Council would receive and extra £48m per year. It still would require savings, but not at the level the Council is now facing.
In the past budget reduction have been delivered pro-rata across the directorates. This method of ‘salami slicing’ cannot continue as we cannot afford to cut equal chunks off every service. This time the Cabinet with information and intelligence gathered have produced a set of priorities for this budget. These areas were seen an important and have been protected from the worst areas of cuts.
The priorities are:
- Services to the most vulnerable in society
- the public transport budget
- road repairs and maintenance
Of course some of the proposals contained within the budget will not be popular. This is why since the launch of the draft budget yesterday, the Cabinet and the Council wants to hear your views and suggestions. The message is clear, we are listening. There will be a series of 20 public events held for the public to give their views. You can even give your views via an online form HERE. This budget will also go through the full democratic process and nothing will be decided until the budget is debated and voted on in November. Of course before you give your views and suggestions, you will want to read the draft budget. This can be found HERE.
In a break from ‘tradition’ all draft budget papers are public, there are no ‘pink papers’ (restricted) as everything is out in the open for the public, staff, and media to see. This is important, as this Cabinet has always prided itself on being open and transparent in its business and by putting all the documentation out in the public arena will also show the difficult task ahead.
It is now your turn to give your views….