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Consultation on our budget proposals for 2023/24


Have your say on proposed budget savings and council tax rates for next year (2023/24).

Background

We are in the process of preparing our budget proposals for the next financial year and have updated our medium-term financial forecasts. Outlined below are the challenges we face in setting a balanced budget and the difficult decisions needed as a result.

The economic context

We are operating in a period of significant uncertainty and volatility - the likes of which we have not seen for over 30 years.

For next year, and across the next four year period, the budget setting process will be more difficult than it has been previously, largely due to a range of external factors that are outside our control, including demand pressures in social care and significant increases in inflation, which are impacting on our energy costs and on our transport, waste management and other major contracts.

These factors are being further compounded by interest rate rises, expected pay settlements, and continued uncertainty about future government funding. 

It is very difficult to plan ahead with any certainty at this time and the unprecedented challenge in balancing the budget next year could worsen if any further cost pressures arise, or if the government's funding for councils is reduced. 

How these factors are affecting our costs

Across our services, some of the biggest impacts are as follows:

  • Increasing energy prices are adding substantially to operating costs for our buildings including leisure centres, libraries and cultural venues, and the costs of street lighting across the county.
  • Increases in fuel prices are affecting the operating costs of services such as rubbish and recycling collections, road gritting and home to school transport.
  • Rising inflation and interest rates are adding to projected costs of our regeneration programmes and projects and making it more expensive for us to borrow to invest in these programmes.
  • Forecast increases in the National Living Wage are expected to add significant costs across the board, particularly in Adult Social Care commissioned services, as well as driving higher than previously anticipated pay awards for our staff, which are subject to national pay bargaining.
  • Over 60% of our expenditure goes into caring for our most vulnerable children and adults, so the following is, or will potentially, also have a significant impact:
    • Increased demand for looked after children services, as well as children presenting with more complex needs.
    • Increased costs associated with increased demand for home to school transport for children with special educational needs.
    • The outcome of the national 'Fair Cost of Care' exercise and the social care funding reforms, which are being implemented by the Government, where there is a concern that insufficient funding is being made available to finance these changes.

The diagram below shows the expenditure on our services during the current financial year.

Net expenditure budgets 2022/23: Adult and Health (£136.8million), Children and Young People (£141.9million), Neighbourhoods and Climate Change (£113million), Regeneration Economy and Growth (£54.9million), Resources (£25.2million), other (£20.9million)

Impact on our budget forecasts

These rising costs are having a substantial impact on our budget, particularly in the short-term, with the savings required for 2023/24 now being £37.4million, and almost £53million over the next four financial years.

Since 2010, we have had to save £250 million from our budget because of a combination of reductions in central government funding and unavoidable and unfunded cost pressures we have faced.

To meet these savings requirements, we have had to transform the way we do things and have sought to protect frontline services as much as possible, by increasing or introducing new charges, reducing staff levels and making savings to management and back-office functions wherever we can. We employ around 3,000 less people today than we did in 2010.

It is becoming increasingly hard to make savings in this way and going forward it will be extremely difficult to avoid impacts on front line service delivery.

We will need to make some difficult decisions for next year's budget and beyond, and we're seeking your views on our proposed approach as we continue to look at ways we can meet the savings required.

You can read the Cabinet agenda and minutes - 12 October 2022.

Proposed approach

The approach has five elements, three of which are from savings and additional income proposals.

£11.8million savings: 59% savings from back office and staff reductions, 36% from raising income, 5% from changing how we delivery front line services

Have your say 

The closing date for online comments was 5.00pm on Tuesday 22 November 2022 but you can still attend your local Area Action Partnership (AAP) board meeting (details below) where you can find out more and then fill in a survey

Next steps

As the economic uncertainty we face continues, we will continue work to identify other areas where savings can be made both next year and beyond. Your feedback in this consultation will help us shape and finalise our budget proposals for 2023/24 which will go to our cabinet and full council in February 2023. 

We anticipate further consultation on how to shape future savings proposals will be carried out next year.