Cheshire East Council has returned a budget surplus of nearly a million pounds for last year and announced that it will be returning the money to the people of Cheshire East through a series of grants to local community groups.
Publishing its pre-audit statement of accounts and draft Annual Governance Statement for 2013/14, the council confirmed a £900,000 underspend against its approved revenue budget of £260m.
The council’s robust financial health comes just a year into a three-year programme designed to transform Cheshire East into a strategic commissioning council. In addition to the surplus, the Cabinet will recommend the creation of new reserves of £12.4m to Council.
Welcoming the news, Council Leader Michael Jones said: “I am delighted to announce this budget surplus, which is the result of a lot of hard work in ensuring the council does more with less.
“Since I became leader of Cheshire East in 2012, we have kept a relentless focus on improving value for money for the council taxpayers in Cheshire East. We have been prepared to make the hard choices that have reshaped and refocused the whole council on delivery.”
Councillor Jones added: “We have taken out tens of millions of core costs and radically reformed the way we work to become a strategic commissioning council.
“What this means is that we put residents’ first and deliver them the very best services, regardless of whether we provide them or we commission them from elsewhere.”
“We have frozen council tax for four years in a row and I am already confident we will do so next year as well. At the same time, we have defended frontline services, delivering on our promise not to close any libraries or leisure centres.
Councillor Jones added: “This surplus shows that councils can get control of their finances, reshape services, make improvements, innovate and deliver value for money – all at the same time. This is the Cheshire East way.”