Council budget 2017/18

 

Council Tax has been frozen or kept as low as possible for residents over the past seven years but we are now, like all other councils, facing the national social care crisis.

In 2017/18 Council Tax will rise by 1.99 per cent. The only option open to the Council is to accept the Government’s response to the national social care crisis and introduce a further 3 per cent social care levy which represents a 66p a week increase for a Band D taxpayer.

The money raised through this levy is used solely to fund adult social care, which is needed to help and support our most vulnerable residents in a time of ever increasing financial pressure.

The overall impact after allowing for an increase in the GLA’s payment is that Council Tax will go up by 4.3 per cent which equates to £60.87 a year for a Band D taxpayer. By increasing Council Tax we will be able to continue to deliver the services residents rely on every day.

 

 

Budget focus groups 

Like other councils, we're facing an unprecedented financial challenge. Due to Government cuts, increased demand for our services and inflationary pressures, we have to save a further £30.3 million in the next 5 years.

As we look for ways to reduce spend, we listened to the views of our residents.

In October 2016, we carried out a number of budget focus groups. These sessions helped us to learn more about residents' feelings and experiences of the Council and to find out what services were most important to them.

  1. People were recruited to reflect the population of Redbridge. In total, 8 workshops were held and 163 residents took part, with 1 session held with members of our Youth Council
  2. Participants were asked to discuss their priorities for local services, the services that they thought should be protected from savings and the lower priorities which could be reduced
  3. We discussed where the community could be more directly involved with service delivery and how changing peoples' behaviour could reduce costs for the Council e.g. waste minimisation, healthier lifestyles or using preventative services
  4. Residents welcomed the opportunity to give their views on how the Council could reduce its spend. Many were aware that Redbridge, as with many councils, faced budget challenges but very few had prior knowledge of the size of the deficit
  5. Finding savings was very challenging, as almost everything that the Council does was seen as an important service to support a reasonable quality of life. Participants also frequently said they felt they needed more information about the rationale for each service area and its budget to make a more confident judgement
  6. By reviewing the services and spend across the different parts of the Council, residents suggested where services should be protected and which services could find savings

View the report with the full results of the budget focus groups

 

What we have to save 

Like other Councils, we're facing an unprecedented financial challenge.

Government cuts have meant we have had to approve savings of around £125m since 2011 of which £30.3m has to be saved over the next five years.

Why we have to save 

Government cuts have meant we have had to approve savings of around £125m since 2011 of which £30.3m has to be saved over the next five years.

  1. Since 2011, our population has risen by 18,000 and by 2020 it is predicted to rise by a further 26,000. Over the longer term, Redbridge will be the third highest growing area in the UK
  2. Between 2016 and 2039 our population is predicted to rise by a further 94,000 more people. So we need more homes, schools, health and social care and services including cleansing, roads and highways

The significant cost pressures from the growing population are particularly felt in the increasing demand for adults and children’s social care and pressures on temporary accommodation.

Central Government has frozen the distribution of funding between local authorities. This penalises Redbridge compared to other authorities as it doesn’t take into account the population increases we are expecting.

Without a change in the way the Government grant is distributed to recognise our increasing demands and pressures, we are faced with an historic challenge to continue delivering all our services.

What we have saved so far

Since 2011, we have approved savings of around £123 million while largely maintaining frontline services. 

Making further savings

We have set out a 5 year programme to provide a long term, strategic approach to meet the large budget gap that we face. We will make major savings to reduce the Council's budget gap over the next 5 years, while protecting frontline services and continuing to care for the Borough's most vulnerable residents.

We're working very hard to balance the books. We are driving through fundamental changes across the Council to improve services, manage demand and minimise the call on the public purse.


A major transformation programme is in place to change the way in which we operate, and is delivering significant efficiency savings. This programme is transforming our services to meet the needs of our residents and businesses as well as reducing costs to meet the shortfall in resources.

 

We're using new technology to save money. We've launched a Customer Access Programme to improve the experience residents have when they need to access our services while making significant efficiencies. Residents have been taking advantage of new and improved online registrars and cleansing services and more online services are launching soon.

Services are being redesigned to make them more efficient and we are working very hard to provide more services online.

Improving our services:

  • residents are able to access a wide and increasing range of services on the Council’s website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, resulting in significant savings
  • our telephone systems have been rationalised to make it easier for residents
  • we are undertaking a fundamental review of our back office functions to cut duplication and more waste from the back office
  • all opportunities to change the way our services operate to create more efficiencies are being explored
  • we are reorganising the way we work internally and are developing opportunities to generate income
  • we are conducting a review of all of our contracts across the Council to get the best deal and save money
  • we are reducing the number of our buildings and savings are being made year on year by improving debt collection across a range of income streams including Council Tax and Business Rates

 

In recent years, the Government has significantly cut funding to local authorities to fund Council Tax reduction schemes.

The Council is facing unprecedented financial pressures and has to make very significant budget savings.

We are working to balance our duty to provide an affordable Council Tax reduction scheme that is fair to residents on low incomes, with providing services for all Council Tax payers. If we do not increase the amount we ask people to pay, we would have to find the money from other sources, for example, by reducing services. 

  1. For 2017 to 2018, the proposal is to reduce the maximum Council Tax Support to 80% of liability
  2. If a claimant or their partner receive any form of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, the household will continue to receive up to 85% Council Tax reduction in 2017 to 2018
  3. Claimants who are pensioners will continue to receive up to 100% Council Tax reduction
  4. A £300,000 Discretionary Hardship Fund reserve will help provide support for people who are experiencing severe financial hardship

 

 

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