Since 2010, the funding councils receive directly from the Government has been cut by around 40 per cent, while the demand and cost of providing many public services has gone up.
Councils across the country have been placed under enormous pressure and have been forced to consider desperately difficult decisions to survive, which would not have been contemplated in better financial times.
My Labour colleagues and I have always been vocal about the impact of government cuts on public services, but we have also been resolute in tackling our financial challenges and putting Derby on a firmer footing for the future. Where possible, we have sought to protect services, invest in our infrastructure and find ways to do more with less.
Earlier this month, we launched our budget consultation for 2018-19, which sets out the council’s current financial position and our proposals for how we plan to pay for our services in the year ahead.
We’re asking the public to consider proposals for the Council’s revenue and capital budgets. The former pays for day-to-day running costs, while our capital programme is used for one-off investments like the new 50 metre swimming pool at Moorways.
In recent years, the cost of providing many services has increased substantially due to greater demand and inflation. This means we have had to make our revenue budget stretch further to meet the needs and expectations of Derby residents.
For example, there is growing demand for support to both vulnerable and elderly adults, as well as children in our schools and under our care. The annual cost of providing this support is almost £400 million and is set to increase.
Like many businesses and households, the council will need to borrow money to support key projects. Our capital programme allows the Council to pay for major investments over their lifetime. As part of our budget process, we are maintaining a prudent approach, only borrowing where needed and ensuring it is affordable.
The Government is allowed to carry a large deficit but the council is legally required to balance its books. So if our funding goes down, we must either make our services more efficient or, in the worst cases, cut the offer to the public. This year, our focus will remain on improving efficiency.
The Government has made it clear that it wants councils to rely on money raised locally, through Council Tax and Business Rates. That’s why many of our investments remain on increasing the number of homes in the city; improving the conditions for businesses to thrive and making Derby a place where people want to live and work.
Although the savings we are making this year will help address our financial challenges, to balance the budget we plan to raise Council Tax by 1.99 per cent. We are also proposing to accept the Government’s Adult Social Care precept, which will add a further increase of three per cent, ring-fenced to support our most vulnerable residents.
The impact of these increases on a Band D property is £1.25 each week or 18p per day and means Derby remains one of the lowest Council Tax areas in the East Midlands.
We appreciate that times remain difficult for working families and we are committed to supporting those who struggle to make ends meet. However, I believe this increase is fair, reasonable and essential if we are to balance the budget and maintain essential services.
In return, residents can expect the council to deliver its 50 Pledges. These include creating cleaner neighbourhoods, regenerating the city centre, building a new swimming pool, developing more homes and creating more jobs.
I want to encourage as many residents as possible to have their say. Please read the complete budget summary document and complete the online survey. We will ensure your voice is heard when we consider the outcome of the consultation in January.
We want to know which services you value most and how we should address our financial challenges in the year ahead. Together, we can ensure Derby remains a fantastic place to live, work and visit.