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Thursday 20 January 2011

Pre-Budget Report 2011/2012:

Working Together to Improve Community Life –

Cheshire East to freeze Council Tax while boosting cash for children and vulnerable adults and nurturing economic growth

Cheshire East is set to freeze Council Tax while boosting the coffers of services for children, the elderly and vulnerable.

Despite a 25 per cent cut in Government grants over four years, proposals in a Pre-Budget Report approved by the Cabinet also aim to help nurture economic growth in the Borough and still further improve efficiency at delivering services.

The planned gross Council expenditure (funding available to services, less charges and fees for services) for 2011/12 is £587.7m. This is £4.8m lower than the previous year’s figure, £592.5m.

The finalised Budget is due to be put before the Council for approval on February 24.

Cheshire East Council Leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “The Council is facing high demand for services – particularly those involved in care of the elderly, protecting and enhancing the lives of children and repairing and enhancing our winter-damaged road network.

“This is set against a backdrop of the Government’s tightening of public sector purse strings to manage the national deficit reduction programme.

“We are responding positively to meet this challenge, as we recognise that delivering high-value, low-cost council services is essential – and a vital part of being accountable to the people of Cheshire East.”

Proposals in the Pre-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);

● Raising about £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;

● £9.8m investment in Adult Services– to meet rising demand for frontline services 

   and give older and vulnerable adults greater choice and control over their lives;

● £0.9m extra for Children’s Services – increasing budgets to provide care for 


● £3.7m savings from the Places Budget – including transforming the way 

   Council transport is run and improving refuse collection efficiency;

● £11.41m 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  


● No proposed Supplementary Business Rates levied in 2011/12.

Councillor Fitzgerald added: “As a Council, we have restructured and used a transformational approach to create real efficiencies over the past two years. This work continued over the autumn as the Cabinet and managers worked to reduce the impact on services.

“Setting a Budget always needs balance and the Council must raise the necessary funds to meet the demands from service users. The authority’s spending is still based on the needs of local residents.

“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, therefore, already high but we will continue to do more.

“The Council is engaging 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. The real work starts now.”

Engagement with key partners will now begin to more fully assess the impact of the Pre-Budget Report proposals and what can be done to mitigate its impact.

The Pre-Budget Report outlines proposals to support the Council’s vision over the next 15 years to ‘Work together to improve community life’.

The seven strategic priorities 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.

Lisa Quinn, Cheshire East’s borough treasurer and head of assets, said: “The Council launched a business planning process in July to assess the likely reduction in available funding levels and set a framework for generating policy changes in response to priorities and desired performance.

“The Budget includes ambitious savings proposals but I am confident they are realistic and achievable.

“This Pre-Budget Report marks a key milestone in setting the final Budget.”

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