Public Consultation - Budget Saving Proposals for 2017/18

Delivering public services through turbulent times

2016 has seen unprecedented change and turbulence at a national level with Britain voting for Brexit, a new Prime Minister, a new national Cabinet and new leadership across the Country's major political parties.

Add to that the devastating impact and cost of the December 2015 Cumbria Floods, we are sure you will agree that this makes the job of delivering public services and balancing the Council's books even harder.

Changes at a national level have increased the uncertainty around public sector funding and the challenges ahead for local government remain unprecedented.

As we look to the future there remains uncertainty about the financial outlook. The Council is continuing to face significant financial challenges. The Council has agreed annual budgets for the period 1st April 2011 - 31st March 2017 which have required savings of £198 million to be found.

The uncertainty around central government funding to the Council in the Medium Term has increased since the February 2016 Council Budget meeting. We don't know what the new Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce in his Autumn Statement on the 23 November. It could be more of the same or there could be a different approach to balancing the Nation's books. The Council expects to receive our draft grant settlement from Government in December 2016. Both of these could change our financial position - and this could be for better or for worse.

Consequently, our planning over the summer has been focused on the 2017/18 Budget and what savings we need to achieve next year. In the Council Plan agreed in February 2016, the Council identified three key drivers for change to achieve the savings it needs to find in the future.

It is in this context that we want to share with you how we plan to achieve the £15.4m of new savings needed to balance the budget in 2017/18. These savings do not require any formal public consultation as they will be achieved through further internal reshaping of the Council and careful financial management.

We are, however, consulting with you about the proposed increases to Council Tax and how some of that money is required to be spent supporting Adult Social Care. We are keen to hear your views on this.

In relation to the Adult Social Care Precept, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP) on 15th December 2016 made a statement to Parliament announcing that councils with adult social care responsibilities will be granted the flexibility to raise the precept by up to 3% in 2017/18 and 3% in 2018/19 [subject to a maximum of 6% across the period 2017/18 to 2019/20].  This announcement was made after the Budget Consultation was launched by Cabinet on 20th October 2016. The Budget Consultation for 2017/18 set out a 2% increase in respect of the ASC precept.

Despite the difficult times ahead, we remain absolutely committed to 'serving the people of Cumbria' as best we can within the reducing resources we have available to us. We are keen, as always, to hear from you. It is important that you have your say so that together we can shape our future, and the future of public services in Cumbria.