Council prepares for difficult financial year

Published on 13th December 2016

White piggy bank with black flower design

Councillors will be discussing the first draft budget proposals when they go to cabinet this evening (13 December 2016).

If approved, the spending proposals for 2017/18 will go out to a four week public consultation before the final budget goes to full council on 10 February 2017.

The council is preparing for a financially difficult year, against a background of declining government funding for local councils and rising costs.

  • Its draft budget for 2017/18 identifies £1,337,800 of efficiency savings in the coming year and there are plans to save a further £2,365,700 over the following two years through service transformation, rationalising our accommodation and enabling economic growth and investment to help the council to become self-financing and less dependent on government support.
     
  • There will be a small increase in the district council’s share of council tax. The increase of 2.6% per cent will take the borough element of council tax up to £197.12 for the average Band D taxpayer, an increase of £5.00 a year.
     
  • There will also be a modest increase in garden waste charges but this will enable an enhanced recycling service with the addition of brown cardboard and plastic pots, tubs and trays being added to the fortnightly kerbside collection service.
     
  • There will also be no cuts in frontline services in 2017/18.

Councillor Rowena Hay, cabinet member for finance said: “Our government core funding (revenue support grant and target business rates income) has been cut by almost 65%, from £8.8 million to £3.1 million a year. The Chancellor’s proposals for future years will see our revenue support grant phased out by 2019. The principles of the settlement allow authorities to spend locally what is raised locally. Most noticeably, there has been a shift away from freezing council tax to using council tax to generate additional funding. The government has promised that councils will gain a bigger share of business rates income over the coming years, which is one more reason why we want to do all we can to boost economic growth.

“In response to these challenges, we have worked tirelessly to cut costs and make savings in this budget. Our overriding responsibility has to be to protect local services, even if it means a modest increase in council tax.

“In addition to the enhanced recycling service, we will be pressing ahead with some major projects, such as the plans for the new crematorium and the acquisition of a property investment portfolio which will help the council to become more self-financing. In addition we will be taking a strategic approach to how our existing accommodation is utilised as well as aiding economic regeneration through both direct and indirect investment.

“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 the significant cuts from central government.”

Public consultation

There will be a four week period of consultation on the draft budget, starting on 14 December 2016 and closing on 13 January 2017. Details about the consultation and links to the draft budget proposals and the medium term financial strategy will be on the council’s website from tomorrow (14 December) and comments can be sent to moneymatters@cheltenham.gov.uk

There will be an opportunity for residents to attend a session with Cllr Rowena Hay on Wednesday 25 January 2017, at the Municipal Offices, at 6pm. To register your attendance, please contact Jayne Parker on 01242 775027 or jayne.parker@cheltenham.gov.uk

Public comments will be taken into account by the cabinet when putting forward their final budget proposals, which will come to the full council for approval on Friday 10 February 2017.


For press enquiries contact: Katie Sandey, communications and web team leader, telephone 01242 775037 or email: communications@cheltenham.gov.uk