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21 October 2016

Delivering public services despite national uncertainty and austerity

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Despite unprecedented national change and turbulence Cumbria County Council remains focussed on reshaping services in the face of yet more government cuts to our funding.

The savings will be met through further internal reshaping of the Council and careful financial management, which means that this year’s formal public consultation will focus on securing the public’s views on a proposed council tax increase of 3.99%. This is made up of a 1.99% increase on Council Tax and a 2% increase as recommended by the government to help fund the growing costs of Adult Social Care as a result of an ageing population. 

Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council said

“Without doubt this year has seen unprecedented change and turbulence at a national level with Britain voting for Brexit, a new Prime Minister, a new national cabinet and new leadership across all major political parties.  Add to that the devastating impact and cost of the Cumbria Floods, including the impact of Storm Desmond, and I am sure you will agree that this has made the job of delivering public services and balancing the Council’s books even harder.

“It is important to reiterate to the public the sheer scale of the numbers outlined in this year’s consultation document, the magnitude of the savings that we have made already, and the scale of the savings that we still need to make over the next three years.  Since austerity began in 2011 we have achieved savings of £198million and we predict that by 2020 this will have increased to £246million.  This is the scale of what we face.

“This year we have focused on delivering the savings we need for 2017/18, beyond that there is a great deal of uncertainty - there will be an autumn statement on 23 November and we can expect our budget settlement in December.  The November statement will be the first indication of the government’s direction of travel.  So far we have received mixed messages as to their plans. Our situation could be worse, or it could be better, we simply won’t know until we receive our settlement in December.

“What we do know is that these are difficult financial times for us and for the public.  As such we now need the public’s views on whether or not to increase council tax.  We are consulting on a proposed increase of 1.99% plus an additional 2% to be ring-fenced to Adult Social Care in line with the government’s advice.  The choice is between doing this or having to find even more savings from our services.

The last few years have been the most challenging that we have ever known and that looks set to continue”.

The consultation document is now available at cumbria.gov.uk/budgetconsultation and will run until 20 January 2017.  The cabinet will consider the budget proposal in February 2017 and make recommendations to council for it to consider. We look forward to hearing your views.
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Despite unprecedented national change and turbulence Cumbria County Council remains focussed on reshaping services in the face of yet more government cuts to our funding.