Quality of service and a sense of place, coupled with value for money for residents, are the keynote elements of Cheshire East Council’s new corporate plan.
With the council, along with other local authorities, facing difficult financial challenges over the next three years, our emphasis will be placed on protecting front-line services, especially in adult social care, while identifying savings and opportunities to generate new income streams.
The council needs to offset the loss of more than £40m in government grants combined with inflation and additional service demands, including the needs of a growing ageing population.
The financial impact of this will require the council to find £100m to balance its books between 2017 and 2020.
Economies will be found across the board and underpinned by a strategy to minimise any impact on front-line services.
The council’s cabinet will be asking full council to approve the medium term financial strategy when it meets in February. It will also be asked to approve a proposed council tax increase of 4.99 per cent, three per cent of which will go directly towards adult social care.
The increase equates to a £1.21 per week rise on an average Band D property.
This would leave the council to find economies of a further £49m through changes and efficiencies within the 500 services it delivers to residents each day.
Introducing the council’s annual corporate plan, which sets out the objectives and planned outcomes, council leader Rachel Bailey said: “This corporate plan for 2017 to 2020 highlights how the council is striving to create sustainable growth in the local economy that will support the health and economic wellbeing of our residents.
“We will continue to provide the right environment for our local population to develop their skills, which will help them to secure meaningful long-term employment as well as supporting our local businesses.
“In addition, we will maintain a focus on the ‘quality of place’ in the borough, which will enable our economy to grow and help our local residents to access employment, education and leisure opportunities.
“This is why the medium term financial strategy proposes a capital programme of more than £300m over the next three years so that we can continue to invest in essential infrastructure, education and regeneration of our towns and villages.
“Furthermore, we will also ensure that the countryside and open spaces in Cheshire East are managed prudently and provide good quality frontline services, such as highways, waste collection and street cleansing, to ensure that the quality of the environment in the borough is maintained.”
Councillor Peter Groves, cabinet member for finance, said: “We will continue to create the right conditions for economic growth and prosperity for all, investing in people, social care and education.
“The costs associated with maintaining this level of quality in our services and our environment, are becoming increasingly challenging as national austerity measures continue to put pressure on local government, and as the costs of the health system continue to put all public services under severe financial pressure.”
However, with one of the strongest economies in the country thanks to a vibrant mix of businesses, Cheshire East remains ‘a great place to live, work and visit’.
The council will continue to provide services that residents need and apply a ‘best fit’ approach across the group of council-owned companies.
The pre-budget consultation period ran between November 2016 and January 2017 and resulted in a record number of responses from residents, businesses and other stakeholders.