Happy New Year?
Welcome to the first post of 2017 and yes, Happy New Year!. The first working day back started with an 8am Executive Members group budget meeting, making the final adjustments to our draft budget, the papers for which will be published later this afternoon. I covered the very disappointing provisional financial settlement from national government two posts ago so won't repeat that here. Today is how we plan to make the best we can of the poor hand we have been dealt.
I'm guessing the proposed 4.99% Council Tax increase will attract a lot of attention, and Council Tax payers will rightly ask what they are getting for their money. I have explained previously that most of the Council's spend goes on a relatively small number of adults and children with very high levels of need. A very clear illustration of that is that although Council Tax raises roughly £130million a year, we spend £157million on adult social care alone. The total of Council Tax doesn't even cover the cost of adult care, nevermind looked after children, children at risk, children in need or any of the universal services.
When we started consulting on a three year budget we were looking at cuts of between £40-£75million cuts by the third year. Largely as a result of how we can manage the costs of our capital and more significantly increased income from Airport dividend, certainly no thanks to national government, we have been able to get that gap down to around £30m and we will still be able to offer something to every Council Tax payer. Perhaps the most eyecatching of those is on roads and pavements where we are proposing to invest £100million over the next seven years with the aim of bringing all our roads and pavements up to a decent standard and keeping them that way.