The first round of plans, published today, sets out how the council is proposing to address £12.1 million of this challenge.
Due to the council exceeding city-wide forecast growth targets, £2.9million will be raised from increased income through business rates and the New Homes Bonus. This figure also includes additional council tax income that is being generated because more homes are being built in the city than previously predicted.
Income generated through initiatives such as the Empower Peterborough free solar scheme as well as selling council services to other organisations would produce £910,000 to help balance the council’s books.
A proposal to change how the council repays loans needed to carry out infrastructure projects, such as new schools, could also produce a significant saving. Through a change in these repayments and successful funding bids replacing the need for previously forecast borrowing, a total of £3.2million would be saved from the council’s budget for 2016/17.
If savings plans are approved by Council, it is proposed to implement a number of the measures in the current financial year to produce additional savings. These proposals would generate £2.7million to support front-line services during 2016/17.
Innovative new ways of working are also set to produce savings. These include providing better technology for staff to improve productivity through mobile working and a project to ensure that residents’ issues are dealt with at first point of contact with the council.
Residents are now being asked to read the phase one budget document and get involved in the council’s Budget Conversation by commenting on the proposals.
Councillor John Holdich, leader of the council, said: “This budget is the result of Peterborough being a growing, and increasingly successful, city. However the financial challenge for the council remains constant.
“We are making the changes required to maintain good services but we need residents to go on that journey with us and use the council’s new ways of working to their benefit. This will allow us to use our resources to support our most vulnerable residents.
“These budget proposals are the product of continued hard work in order to do the best for our residents and I believe they provide a platform for continued growth in the city.”
A second set of proposals, which are still being developed, will be published in the New Year. These will identify the remaining £7.5million that the council needs to save in order to deliver a balanced budget for 2016/17.
The city council has already seen its government funding cut by 40 per cent in the five years up to the end of 2015/16 – that’s £44million.
In the next financial year the council expects its government grant to further reduce by £9.7million. This is on top of financial pressures of £9.9million as a result of an increasing demand for services and legislative changes.
Councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: “We are not proposing any reduction in services for residents. Our unerring focus has always been to ensure that the council is as efficient as possible. The government has made it clear that the grant they give us will go and we have to, like all local authorities, move towards self-sufficiency.
“We have a vision to achieve this by being an enterprising and innovative organisation; selling council services to other local authorities to generate income; continuing to take the dividends from growth and investing to make savings in the long-term.
“We have taken many tough decisions in the past few years and I have no doubt that there will be more in the future. But we are committed to strong financial management for the benefit of the city and I believe these budget proposals show how successful that approach has been.”
Cabinet will consider the first phase proposals at its meeting on Wednesday 25 November 2015 and formally ask people to comment on the proposals and take part in the Budget Conversation.
Comments received up to 5pm on Thursday 3 December 2015 will be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Monday 7 December 2015. Full Council will then consider the phase one proposals on Thursday 17 December 2015.
Cabinet will use the feedback from the Budget Conversation to develop the phase two proposals that will be published in January for consultation. Council will then consider these phase two proposals, along with the level of council tax, at its meeting on Wednesday 9 March 2016.
People can take part in the Budget Conversation from 17 November by completing the online questionnaire.
Hard copies of the budget proposals document and questionnaire will be available on Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and in each of the city’s libraries by the formal launch of the consultation on Wednesday 25 November. – See more at: https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/news/council/phase-one-budget-proposals-announced/#sthash.s5PHhIwk.dpuf