Budget, Budget and Budgets

Cornwall Council is in the process of formulating the council’s budget for 2014/15 and beyond. The picture is stark and for those who thought the last four years of budget reductions (£170m) were harsh, the next four years are set to get a lot worse.

For the 2014/15 budget, the council has to find a further £23m in savings for this period alone. Thanks to the Governments stinging cuts to Local Authorities. To put this into pounds, shilling and pence, the council would have to raise Council Tax by 19% just to cover the £23m. Currently, the proposal for raising the Council Tax is 2%. This figure is the maximum a primary council can raise without holding a referendum.

Of course there has been discussion for bigger rise in Council Tax, but the feed back from Members and the public is this would not be winnable via a referendum. And if you held a referendum, this would cost roughly £750,000. Which would have to be found from the budget.

I wish I could say the extra £23m was it, but the council is will have to fund a further £196m for the next four years. This is far more than has been previously saved, with much of the previous savings coming from ‘back-office’ functions and realigning services. However, and worryingly, any further reduction in back-office or realigning a service would result in those services being unable to be delivered.

The council is faced with the difficult dilemma; which services does it carry on providing, and which ones are either stopped, or handed to other organisations and agencies – including the private and voluntary sector.

And as the Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People I will have to make some very difficult decisions in the coming months and years. I am just glad I have Children and Young People PAC to help with those difficult decision. It is not going to be easy.

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