Council sets out budget proposals

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Cornwall Council has today published its draft budget proposals for saving £196 million over the next four years.

John Pollard
John Pollard

The Council says its aim is to “strengthen its partnerships” with the rest of the public and community sector in order to make as many savings as possible without impacting frontline services.

The authority is seeking to devolve at least £34 million of services to town and parish councils and to work on integrating services currently run by government departments, the NHS, voluntary and community sectors and Cornwall Council.

The unprecedented scale of the savings required means that all areas of the Council are affected by the draft proposals.

However, the Council says rather than simply “salami slice” every service, it has developed a four-year plan which will help protect the three key priority areas identified during last year’s budget consultation.  These are services for the most vulnerable in society (including vulnerable adults, children, older people and the poorest), public transport, and road repairs and maintenance.

“We are determined to focus on what Cornwall will be like in 2019, rather than what we need to cut,” said Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard.

“Budgetary constraints and the changing nature of Local Government require a different approach and, as we said last year, we want to build a resilient and sustainable Cornwall and not simply reduce the services we provide.

“To this end we have worked with councillors, officers and partners to develop this budget, the Council’s strategy which underpins it, and a business plan which will implement it.

“Our commitment is to create a leaner, more resourceful organisation that delivers essential council services in the most efficient and effective way.  This also means having the courage to make some extremely difficult decisions.

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Alex Folkes, the Council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, added: “Over the past few months we have looked closely at everything we do to see how we can protect services by becoming more efficient and changing the way the Council is run.

We started with the money we spend on ourselves and have already identified more than £30 million of savings through a radical restructure of senior management, reducing the use of consultants and agency staff by 59%, and a local pay agreement with staff.

“This work is continuing, with further savings due to come from ongoing restructuring and the sale of surplus buildings, but the sheer scale of the savings we need to make means we cannot rely on these actions alone.”

The draft budget proposals are based around four key areas:

  • Working with staff to reduce the pay bill – including further restructuring and the transfer of staff to new models of delivery and arm’s length companies
  • New models of delivery – including integrating health and social care services; devolving further services to town and parish councils and community and voluntary groups (eg libraries ); creating trusts and partnerships to deliver services such as culture and tourism, and seeking external partners for services such as parking.
  • Management improvements – including delivering more services digitally and through the website; reducing administrative costs in areas such as IT and postage; more effective procurement and contract management and sharing buildings with partners and community groups;
  • Increasing income – taking a more commercial approach in areas such as public protection, licensing, planning, and waste.

The Council will be holding a series of public consultation meetings in October, while there is also an online form on the website where people can give their views and make any suggestions.

For more details on the proposals, and also a link to the online feedback form, click here.