Cheshire East Council backs Budget to freeze Council Tax, boost cash for children and vulnerable adults and nurture economic growth
Cheshire East Council has overwhelmingly backed plans to freeze Council Tax while boosting the coffers of services for children, the elderly and vulnerable.
Proposals in the Budget Report – passed by a large majority at the full Council – also aim to still further improve efficiency in delivering services, while helping nurture economic growth in the Borough. This is despite a 25 per cent cut in Government grants over four years,
The planned gross Council expenditure (funding available to services, less charges and fees for services) for 2011/12 is £597m. This is £4.8m lower than the previous year’s figure, £601.8m.
Cheshire East Council Leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “I am pleased that this challenging but necessary Budget has been adopted. It follows a lot of hard work and some tough decisions.
“Cheshire East Council is well prepared. We have restructured and transformed services to create real efficiencies over the last two years. This work has continued as the Cabinet and managers worked hard to deliver the Budget, while protecting frontline services. This commitment will continue.
“The Budget recognises the need to meet a rising demand for Council services – particularly those involved in care of the elderly, protecting and enhancing the lives of children and repairing and improving our winter-damaged roads – against a backdrop of the Government’s tightening of public sector purse strings.
“We recognise that delivering high-value, low-cost Council services is essential to being more accountable to local taxpayers and helping grow and develop a sustainable Cheshire East.”
Proposals in the Budget Report include:
● No increase in basic Council Tax levels for 2011/12 – securing extra Government
funding of £4.4m (equivalent to increasing Council Tax by 2.5 per cent);
● £10.1m investment in Adult Services – to meet rising demand for frontline services
and give older and vulnerable adults greater choice and control over their lives;
● Raising about £2.1m by increasing taxes on second and long-term empty homes
In Cheshire East – helping to boost moves to increase the number of empty
homes brought back into use to meet housing demand – reviewing single person
discounts on Council Tax and an increase in the number of homes built;
● £0.1m extra for Children’s Services – increasing budgets to provide care for
● £3.9m savings from the Places Budget – including transforming the way Council
transport is run and improving refuse collection efficiency;
● £11.1m savings in efficiency measures including proposed changes to conditions
of employment, reducing agency staff costs, targeting procurement savings,
greater management efficiency, improving use of the Council’s estate and
increasing energy efficiency;
● No proposed Supplementary Business Rates levied in 2011/12.
Councillor Fitzgerald added: “The Council’s spending is based on the needs of local residents and we will strive to make each pound go further.
“Using Government comparisons, the spending power for Cheshire East Council is only £753.31 per head. This compares with an England average of £1007.21. Value in Cheshire East is already high but we will continue to do more.
“The Council will continue to engage with Government to ensure it recognises the potential in Cheshire East. I also look forward to continuing our work with local partners and businesses to maintain Cheshire East’s position as a prosperous place with great potential.”
Cheshire East’s Sustainable Community Strategy, ‘Ambition for All’, sets out a 15-year vision. The Budget outlines the Council’s proposals that will support this vision.
The seven strategic priorities to achieve this vision are: to nurture strong communities; create the conditions for business growth; unlock the potential of our towns; support our children and young people; ensure a sustainable future; prepare for an increasingly older population; and drive out the causes of poor health.