From Thursday 17 December 2015 to 31 January 2016 you will have the opportunity to tell us what you think of our proposals before they are finalised at the full council meeting in February 2016. You can do this by filling out the online survey.
Further reductions in core government funding are expected of approximately 30 percent by 2019/20.The full position will not be known until the council receives its government grant, but our best estimate is a reduction of £24m for 2016/17 alone. When rising costs, increased demand for services and other budget pressures are added to this reduction, we face an overall gap of £87.2m for next year.
We are therefore once again facing some difficult decisions with our budget and the services we continue to provide, and we need your help and views on which matter to you to make sure we make the right choices.
All areas of the council will be asked to make savings and efficiencies, although services for vulnerable young and older people will be prioritised with funding in these two areas accounting for 64% of the council budget for 2016/17.
We will continue to get smaller in size, with a reduction in staff numbers of 259 full-time equivalent posts next year as part of a further loss of 1,000 to 2,000 by 2020. These will add to more than 2,500 full-time equivalent posts we have reduced since 2010, saving £55m a year as a result.
We are still waiting for more details from the government before making a final decision on council tax, but given the anticipated financial position it is proposed to rise by 1.99 per cent, plus a further two per cent social care precept suggested by the government. This would generate an estimated additional £14.1m income in 2016/17.
We have managed to identify revenue savings of £21m through a review of the way we repay our borrowing in addition to £1.1m savings from reviewing our asset portfolio and a further £4m from the operation of new Recovery and Energy from the Waste Facility.
This still leaves over £40m of savings to be found to balance the budget and further efficiencies and reductions will be considered across all services, while new and additional potential income streams will be explored and developed. These include adopting a more commercial approach with a focus on increasing income from trading services.
Appendix 2 of the Initial Budget Proposals report provides further details of these savings proposals. For each of the directorates, these have been categorised over 4 headings:
Efficiencies – savings of £14m. These include a number of initiatives around:
- Organisational design.
- Continuing demand management through investment in prevention and early intervention, particularly in Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.
- Savings across the range support service functions.
- Ongoing recruitment and retention management.
- Reviewing leadership and management.
- Realising savings by cash-limiting and reducing non-essential budgets.
- Estimated savings on energy and fuel through price and volume.
- Ongoing procurement and purchasing savings.
Fees & Charges – additional income of £2.8m:
The initial budget proposals assume a general increase in fees and charges of 3%. Appendix 2 sets out detailed proposals around a number of fees and charges where further increases are proposed which in total would generate an additional £2.8m of income by March 2017.
Traded Services, partner income & other income – additional income of £12.5m. These proposals include:
- Adult Social Care – further health funding, including the Better Care Fund and transformation funding.
- Improvement partner income in Children’s Services.
- Continued funding from schools and health to support the Children’s Services strategy recognising the range of mutual benefits of the investment in preventative and early intervention.
- A range of additional trading with schools, academies and other external organisations.
Service Changes – savings of £14.9m:
Managing a reduction of £24.1m in government funding in addition to a range of cost pressures means that we will have to make some difficult decisions around the level and quality of services that we provides and whether these services should be increasingly targeted toward need. Appendix 2 sets out these detailed service change proposals which together total savings of £14.9m by March 2017.