Council budget consultation 2019/20
At a cabinet meeting on 18 December 2018, the cabinet's draft budget for 2019/20 was approved for consultation. We asked for your views on the proposals and consultation ended on Friday 25 January 2019.
In February 2018 we set ourselves a challenge to become an enterprising and commercially focused council which people are proud to work for and which others want to work with, working towards the objective of enabling it to become financially sustainable by the financial year 2021/22.
In response to the difficult national funding situation, our overriding financial strategy has been, and is, to drive down the council’s costs. The aim is to hold down council tax as far as possible, now and in the longer term, while also protecting frontline services from cuts – an immensely challenging task in the present climate.
Part of our drive towards financial sustainability includes identifying new opportunities to generate income and investment in projects which provide good financial returns. Our commercial strategy aligns closely with other key strategies including place-making, economic growth, digital transformation, workforce and skills development, investment and asset management which have a combined message that Cheltenham Borough Council has entered a new era of business enterprise, growth and innovation. We wish to work with partners who share our ambition and values and will continue to put the best interests of Cheltenham residents at the heart of everything we do.
The key mechanism for carrying out this strategy is the commercial strategy, which seeks to bring service costs in line with available funding and seek additional forms of funding. The development of a new crematoria, and the acquisitions of 4 new commercial investment properties (Ellenborough House, Sainsbury’s, Café Nero and 53-57 Rodney Road) has already resulted in us over-achieving our new revenue income target. In addition, our public realm investment across the town has enabled us to attract major new businesses such as John Lewis and Partners which has a positive effect on both business rates income and the vibrancy across the town.
The starting point for the 2019/20 budget has been a projected funding gap of £2.019m. Closing a gap of this size is a huge challenge for the council, but the challenge is being met by a proactive approach to identifying efficiencies and additional income, carried out by the cabinet and the executive management team. This work has already made significant progress towards closing the gap, having identified at this early stage potential efficiencies and additional income of £1.621k, leaving £398k to fund from reserves, assuming a 2.99% council tax increase is approved.
The outcome of this budget has been based on a number of substantive consultations throughout the year and we would like to know the public’s views on our strategy for closing the financial gap created by cuts from central government.
Final budget setting
The full council met to set the budget, taking into account feedback from the budget consultation process, on Monday 18 February at 2.30pm in the Municipal Offices. At this meeting, council also agreed the level of council tax, taking into account the requirements of Gloucestershire County Council and the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner.
The final budget for 2019/20 was approved at a full council meeting on 18 February 2019.