The final set of proposals detailing how the city council will close a £28million gap in its 2017/18 budget whilst investing in services and the city’s infrastructure have been published by Peterborough City Council.
The second phase of proposals, released on Friday 27 January, sets out how the council is proposing to meet this challenge.
For another year the council is proposing a balanced budget without a reduction to services.
Proposals include additional investment to improve street cleaning, which follows extra funding for shrub cutting and city parks which were agreed at the end of last year.
A £7.5million investment in Millfield and New England is proposed for a wide-ranging regeneration project to benefit residents and businesses in the area.
The council has also announced plans for a number of key infrastructure projects including further investment in the continuation of the public realm improvements across the city centre and funding for a new arts hub on the Fletton Quays site.
Transport investments are also proposed including a major scheme at the Rhubarb Bridge junction (junction 18 – A47/A15) to improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists as well as improvements to the city’s parkways.
Other proposals include the sale of a number of council assets, an increase in some car parking charges and the introduction of a Peterborough lottery.
Council tax will be increased by two per cent as agreed in December and the council is proposing to levy a three per cent Adult Social Care precept to, in part, meet the rising costs and demand of care for the elderly and most vulnerable in the city.
Within the budget proposals, there has been investment above the level of the funding raised through a three per cent precept into Adult Social Care services.
Government expects all local authorities with responsibility for Adult Social Care to levy the precept, and in 2016/17, 95 per cent of councils did so.
£7.2million of the Grant Equalisation Reserve, established from additional savings delivered during the current year, is proposed to meet the challenge of bridging the budget gap for next year. The phase two proposals include savings of £10.8million, in addition to the £9.9million of savings agreed as part of phase one of the 2017/18 budget.
Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Every year we have the challenge of managing an increasing demand on council services with a reducing amount of money. Since 2010 our central government grant has been cut by over half – a reduction of £57million.
“However, we remain committed to delivering improved efficiency first and foremost and for another year we are proposing a balanced budget without any reductions to services. Instead we are investing in the services which are most important to our residents and support the continued growth of the city.
“We’ve listened to residents and are proposing to make a significant investment to provide additional street cleaning; this follows extra funding for shrub cutting and city parks agreed last year. We are investing in the city’s infrastructure including plans for regeneration projects in Millfield and New England, as well as the city centre’s public realm.
“We are also generating more income to protect services. Our project to redevelop Fletton Quays will now make more money than previously thought and we continue to sell services to other local authorities to enable us to protect city services for residents.
“We still have tough challenges ahead with substantial savings still needed over the coming years. However, with a clear vision for the future and strong financial management we believe we will see the city continue to develop into the strong and vibrant community we all want.”
Out of 56 unitary authorities across the country, Peterborough currently has the fifth lowest council tax. Despite the planned increase in council tax, it’s anticipated that residents will continue to pay one of the lowest rates of council tax rates in the country.
The proposed 5 per cent increase in council tax would mean that the Band D council tax charge would rise from £1,173.04 to £1,231.57 per year – an increase of £1.13 per week.
The average property in Peterborough is in Band B, meaning council tax would rise from £912.37 to £957.88 per year – an increase of 88p per week.
Pensioners in receipt of council tax support will continue not to pay any council tax and a single person discount of 25 per cent will still apply.
The council tax bill that households in Peterborough receive also includes elements from police, fire and in some cases parish councils. The actual increase for households will depend on decisions taken by these bodies.
Councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for resources at the council, said: “We understand that council tax rises are not popular and that is why we have worked hard to keep rates low over recent years. Even with the proposed increase residents will still be paying the lowest council tax anywhere in Cambridgeshire.
“The vast majority of the rise will be used to protect services for the elderly and most vulnerable. Within the budget proposals, our investment in care services far exceeds the money generated by levying the Adult Social Care Precept.
“We hope residents understand why we are proposing an increase, as the alternative is having to make even more savings which will inevitably lead to service reductions or some services being removed altogether.
“Peterborough’s growth is also supporting services with a significant increase in the amount of business rates income we expect to receive over the coming years. These proposals show how our hard work and strong financial management is supporting residents and benefitting the city.”
Residents are now being asked to read the phase two budget document and get involved in the council’s budget consultation by commenting on the proposals.
Cabinet will consider the second phase proposals at its meeting on Monday 6 February 2017.
Comments received up to 5pm on Thursday 23 February 2017 will be considered by Cabinet on Monday 27 February 2017.
The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday 6 March 2017. Council will consider the phase two proposals on Wednesday 8 March 2017.
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 Monday 6 February 2017.