FINANCIAL REVIEW REVEALS EXTENT OF SAVINGS NEEDED
Cambridge City Council’s Mid-Year Financial Review reveals the scale of the challenge it faces following the reduction in funding from central government, and outlines its strategy for making savings while delivering the quality of services expected by Cambridge residents, and targeting poverty in the city.
The review, which will be presented to the council’s Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 29 September, acknowledges that government funding is likely to be cut by 13% per year, while other existing sources of funding for the city council may also be reduced.
It is expected that £6m of annual savings will need to be found by 2020, out of a net budget of around £20m, starting with at least £1.8m in annual savings in 2015-16. This will be done in several ways, including:
- Transforming the way services are delivered, such as establishing the new Cultural Trust to run the Corn Exchange and outside events
- Exploring the possibility of sharing more services with neighbouring councils, particularly South Cambridgeshire given the major opportunities of working together on projects for the ‘Greater Cambridge’ region
- Focusing discretionary services more intelligently, to provide for people most in need
- Reducing council overheads
- Making more immediate savings by reviewing the council’s capital projects plan, in order to promise fewer projects but deliver more
- Freeing up resources to make a substantial new investment in commercial property which will provide additional revenue in the future
Residents can currently help choose spending priorities for the council using a new online tool that allows users to simulate the effects of reducing or increasing spending on council services. People are asked to provide feedback on its budget for next year by 30 September, and can do so at www.cambridge.gov.uk/budget-consultation-2014
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, said: “This detailed and transparent review of the city’s finances shares with Cambridge residents and businesses the tough financial challenge facing us in 2015 and every year to 2020.
“We are determined to deliver quality services, and to protect those most needing our support. However, we have no choice but to reduce what we spend – something made all the more difficult in our rapidly expanding city.
“We will now be working on detailed budget plans for 2015, assisted by the many responses from across Cambridge to our online Budget Consultation, reviewing all aspects of our services and operations.”
Cllr George Owers, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “This document illustrates the very difficult situation we find ourselves in due to government cuts. It is not what any of us would choose, but we have to face up to the financial challenge honestly and squarely.
“There will be tough choices, but the interests of those who are struggling in this city and most rely on our services will be best served by putting the council on a sound financial footing. This is what we aim to do in our first budget.”