Shropshire Council has delivered savings of over £62m in the last four years to address reducing government funding for services and an increase in core service costs such as adult social care and children’s social care.
Whilst this has enabled us to deliver balanced budgets each year, further work is still required to deliver more savings as government grants continue to reduce in future years.
Further cuts on existing budget areas are becoming more and more difficult, so we’re looking at other ways to deliver income into the council to put us on a more sustainable funding position. We’d like your views on proposals being taken forward for the 2020/21 financial year so that we can take account of the taxpayers’ views on these proposals. But first, before we dive into the detail, it’s important that everyone understands some background information on our financial position.
We have two main types of funding, revenue funding and capital funding. Revenue funding consists of the revenue support grant, council tax, business rates, and other specific government grants and income, and these funds can be used towards the costs of maintaining day to day services including social care, waste collection and disposal, highways maintenance and cultural and leisure services.
Capital funding on the other hand includes capital grants, capital receipts from sales of assets, other contributions and borrowing. This funding can only be used for capital projects, not to support our day to day running budget.
The main pressure on our budgets is within the revenue budget, so we’re trying to think about how we can use the capital budget to develop some large-scale schemes that will deliver additional income or reduced costs. This should then relieve the pressure on the revenue budget and reduce the pressure on delivering further savings in service areas.
In terms of funding, the main area we have control over is setting the council tax level for the next year. For 2020/21 Shropshire Council we’re proposing a 1.99% increase to council tax in addition to a 2% increase that is used specifically for social care. This is the maximum that we can raise through council tax in this year.
We’re obliged to provide certain statutory services, such as provision of care for adults, children’s safeguarding and social care, waste collection and disposal and home-to-school transport for children aged 5-16. Whilst savings are delivered where possible within these services to make them as efficient and economical as possible, we must continue to provide these services and fund any increase in demand. These services make up a significant proportion of our budget.
The need to fund these services does increase the pressure on other areas we’re responsible for which are considered discretionary, so we’re looking to find other ways of bringing new or additional income in so that these discretionary services can be maintained where possible. This may be through capital investments, through new income opportunities by selling our services to partner organisations or through joint commissioning of services to deliver efficiencies between us and other public sector organisations. We look for these opportunities before considering cuts in services, but sometimes it’s necessary for services to be cut where the budget is too tight.
We’re planning to deliver savings of £20.9m in 2020/21, consisting of £14m of new savings proposals in addition to £6.9m which had been agreed for 2020/21 in the previous year’s financial strategies. The financial strategy for 2020/21 was presented to cabinet on 16 December for consideration.
These savings aren’t sufficient to close the full funding gap that we have in 2020/21, and we plan to use one-off grants from central government to balance the books. The funding for local government is anticipated to change in 2021/22 and it’s unlikely that these one-off grants will be continued in their current form, nor can we be sure that we’ll receive the total value of funding from central government. Further detail is expected on this over the spring/summer of 2020, and so further work will be performed on future years budgets at that point.
We want your help in confirming that our budget plans are appropriate in terms of the council tax rises proposed and the headline savings suggested. To have your say, simply click on the ‘How to get involved’ tab on this page to access a quick survey. The closing date for comments to be received by us is Tuesday 18 February”.
Your thoughts will be considered by full council when they discuss and agree on the final budget on Thursday 27 February 2020.
How to take part in this consultation: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SCbudgetconsultation2020
If you don’t want to use the online submission option above, you can give us your views by email or letter:
Email: [email protected]
Write to: Budget Consultation, Feedback and Insight Team 1L32, Shropshire Council, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY2 6ND
Your views will form part of a report which will be considered by full council when they discuss and agree on the final budget on Thursday 27 February 2020.