On Tuesday (6 March) elected members gathered to set the 2018/19 budget.
As I stated in my note when the budget reports were published last week, the process represents a great challenge for the leadership team and elected members in light of the financial constraints we face and the increasing demand for our services.
A budgeted spend of over £950million, comprising £269m capital and £689m revenue expenditure, was agreed as we set a balanced budget in which projected spending must be matched by income. It’s a rigorous and complex process involving not only the finance team but officers from across the Council and the way the task is completed is a great credit to all involved.
Full decisions from yesterday’s meeting will be published in the Council and Democracy section of our website on Monday and a round-up has also been posted to the news section to provide an outline of the key aspects of the budget. It is certainly worth familiarising yourself with that detail as the budget decisions link directly to the Local Outcome Improvement Plan and our overarching aims as a Council.
With the budget set our task as officers is to continue delivering in these key areas.
As I stated previously, the transition to the Target Operating Model (TOM) was at the heart of the 2018/19 budget, accounting for £17.1m of identified savings.
It should be stressed these are the savings already communicated – comprising £737,000 from the asset review, £6m in relation to third party spend and £10.378m through voluntary severance, early retirement and the dis-establishment of vacant posts.
I have been instructed by Council to write to staff to reiterate the administration’s commitment to managing the reduction in posts through voluntary measures. That formal communication will follow shortly to every employee.
The £17.1m figure demonstrates the importance of the journey we are on and underlines the purpose of the change we are undertaking – with efficiency in operations enhancing customer experience and financial efficiencies ensuring resources are directed towards protecting frontline services.
Councillors agreed a number of other measures in terms of expenditure and income, which included a 3% increase in Council Tax. I appreciate a large number of staff are residents of the city, so this rise will have a direct impact. It was not an easy decision for members, but a necessary one as we strive to meet our funding requirements.
I thank all who played their part in the budget process and indeed those who were involved in Monday’s meeting of full Council, in which the governance structure supporting the TOM was agreed. There will be further detailed communication to outline those important changes.
With Council followed by the budget meeting it was a busy but productive start to the week and a great deal of hard work went in to ensure business ran smoothly.
As we prepare for another financial year I look forward to working with you to deliver on behalf of all those we serve.