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18 February 2016

Council Plan and budget help secure Cumbria`s future in uncertain times

Today (Thursday 18 Feb 2016) Cumbria County Council have agreed the following:

  • A new Council Plan for 2016-19

  • A draft Revenue Budget 2016/17 (including a new Adult Social Care precept of 2% to help fund Adult Social Care and a 1.99% general increase in Council Tax), a  Medium  Term Financial  Plan 2016-2019 and  Draft  Capital  Programme 2016-2021, and

  • A new Fire and Rescue Integrated Risk Management Plan

The decision taken at Full Council follows on from the council’s formal consultation process, which ran from the 22 October 2015 to 22 January 2016 and from decisions taken by Cabinet on the 4th February 2016. .

Full Council’s decisions are as follows:

Council Plan2016-19

As part of the formal strategic consultation process the Council has also been consulting on a new Council Plan for 2016-19, including a revised set of priorities, that have been updated to reflect national and local drivers, the changing needs of the Council’s population, and the ongoing  work  across  the  Council  and  with  partners  to  improve services  and  drive  out  efficiencies. All engagement and consultation feedback received as part of the consultation process has been carefully considered and used to inform the final document.

Decision - Full Council agreed to the new Council Plan as presented.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP)

  • The production of an Integrated Risk Management Plan is a statutory requirement with the purpose of:

  • identifying  existing  and  potential  risks  to  the  community  within  the authority area

  • evaluating  the  effectiveness  of  current  preventative  and  response arrangements

  • identifying  opportunities  for  improvement  and  determine  policies  and standards for prevention and intervention

  • determining resource requirements to meet these policies and standards

Decision - Full Council agreed to the new IRMP 2016-20 as presented.

Revenue Budget 2016/17 including changes to Council Tax

Since 2011 Cumbria County Council has already identified £153 million in savings. But as the government continues to reduce the funding it provides, as part of its efforts to balance the nation’s book, further savings of another £75 million are now required over the next three years (2016 - 2019) to help bridge the funding gap.

For Cumbria County Council the reduction in central government grant funding, at a time of rising demand for services, will continue to be the key challenge facing the organisation.

Although additional funding for Councils in 2016/17 and 2017/18 was announced as part of the Final Local Government Settlement on the 10th February 2016 this provides only temporary relief with grant reductions returning to the already announced levels for 2018/19. This has allowed the Council to agree a transitional adjustment to the profile of Health and Care savings in 2016/17, reducing the already planned savings of £18m to £14.8m for 2016/17 only.

The continued reduction in funding presents challenges in a rural, sparsely populated county. The budget was also set against the backdrop of increasing pressures upon key local services in particular care for the elderly and care for vulnerable adults and children and the County’s recovery from the extensive flooding it experienced in December 2015.

The Governments in its Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October 2015 set out an additional flexibility for Councils who have responsibilities for Adult Social Care, (which in Cumbria, is the County Council), to raise further local revenue from Council Tax, by increasing  Council  Tax  by  ‘up  to’  an  additional  2%  to  be  spent  entirely  on  adult social care.

Decision(s) -

1.    Full Council agreed to implement the Adult Social Care Precept of 2% adult social care precept for 2016/17 to help meet the continuing and significant responsibilities in this area. The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) assumes  this  2%  precept  is  agreed  every  year  for  the  next three years.

2.    Full Council agreed to implement a general Council Tax increase of 1.99% for 2016/17. The MTFP assumes this increase is agreed every year for the next three years.

3.    This resulted in Full Council agreeing the following:-

a)    A Net  Revenue  Budget  Requirement  for  2016/17  of £380.901m

b)    A new  Council  Tax  income requirement  for  2016/17  of  £202.868m  which will result in the following increases for each property band as shown in the table at the end of this release:

The Council also approved investment of £291m in the Council’s Capital Programme 2016-2021 with £119m investment planned for delivery in 2016/17.

Cllr Patricia Bell, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Cabinet member responsible for finance says

“This year our budget consultation has been about strategies for the future and how we can continue to deliver our priority services in a drastically different way within the budgets available.  A process within which there have been no easy decisions. Today’s decisions have been about setting a budget that will help us live within our means.

So far we have made our savings by reshaping the council; changing how we do business internally as well as a significant amount that has come from working more effectively with our partners and communities. Even with this we still face an extremely tough and challenging time as a result of Government cuts. We are forced into raising a 2% Adult Social Care Precept because the Government has reduced the Revenue Support Grant.  Raising money locally for adult social care is probably the first of a succession of responsibilities we will see pass from central to local government in this parliament.  Although personally I think this is not the baton of responsibility, but rather that of debt.

We have a legal duty to balance our books. To achieve this, the journey ahead will continue to be difficult. This budget is about taking control of our future despite the tough economic times which the council continues to face.

Budget table

Cumbria County Council have agreed the new Council Plan and Budget