Friday, 6 November 2009

BUDGETING FOR THE FUTURE

The grim financial future facing local government has been outlined in a report to Thanet District Council’s Cabinet.

Cabinet Members were last night (Thursday 5 November) told that the council will need to save what was described as an “incredible” £5.9 million over the next five years. Next year’s budget for 2010/11 will need to achieve savings of £1.8 million. Around £1.07 million of this is as a result of losses in income from a range of sources, including planning fees, bulky waste, car parking and land charges. There are also some essential additions to the budget such as increased costs in the concessionary fares scheme and the cost of elections.

The council is also budgeting for a cut in the grant it receives from the government, which makes up approximately 60% of the council’s funding. The settlement for 2011/12 will be announced in due course and the council is anticipating a cut of 3% each year in the money it receives for the three years from 2011/12.

The report outlined a number of ways of achieving the required £5.9 million worth of savings between 2010 and 2015, including merging different council functions, and reductions to staff costs. One of the areas being looked at is sharing services with other councils across East Kent, with work underway to bring services, such as finance, IT procurement and human resources, into a shared services vehicle, operated by Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet councils. It is hoped that such a move could produce savings, on its own, of between £2.5 and £3 million over the five year period.

Options for delivering additional savings for 2010/11 totalling £1.326 million have already been identified by the council, including reductions in; the senior management restructure, use of agency staff and consultants, overtime payments, maintenance of verges, and the cost of member support. Savings of around £450,000 for 2010/11 have been identified in previous years.

Director of Finance and Corporate Services, Sue McGonigal, said: “The financial future in local government is looking bleak at the moment. There’s no getting away from that fact. The recession has left the country with a massive amount of borrowing that’s going to have to be paid back. There’s a realisation in the public sector that one of the most likely ways that can be done is by cutting the amount of money invested in local government. We’re fully expecting to see our government grant reduced over the next few years and are already making allowances for that, but of course, that means we need to make further savings to keep the council’s budget balanced. The next few years are going to be exceptionally difficult, with some tough decisions ahead of us on how we provide our services. However, we fully intend to protect the front line services which are important to our residents, in spite of a reducing amount of income.”

1 comment:

  1. These are all great ideas and concepts, but the only factor not considered is discipline to follow through. You can budget all day, but if you do not follow, it is truly meaningless. I just finished college and only really started budgeting my last year. What a shame!

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