Savings, investment and service changes to address major funding challenges
Last night (22 January 2019), the Executive considered the latest outline budget for 2020-2021, which also helps with the Council’s medium-term plans up to 2023.
Cllr Nigel Manning, Lead Councillor for Finance and Asset Management, explains: “Even with our focused savings, coupled with investment and effective management, our funding situation is set to get even more challenging, and we now predict a budget gap shortfall of about £10 million in the next four years.
“We have not received any general grant funding since 2017 and since 2013 we have received nearly £4 million less in overall central government funding support.”
We provide a wide range of vital services that our communities rely on and invest locally to help our economy flourish, so although we start from a very strong financial position, the funding situation is set to get harder.
We now receive no grant, and in addition more of our business rates will be redistributed away from the Council and it is likely that we will retain just 5% of business rates collected in our borough.
The local impact of proposed Local Government Finance changes from the national ‘fair funding review’ is not entirely clear. From the information available, we expect a significant shift of resources away from district and borough councils towards funding statutory social care services at county councils.
We are also proposing to invest around £74million through the capital programme in 2019-20, and £339million over the next four years, to support key projects in our corporate plan.
These are projects emerging from the local plan, in particular the infrastructure delivery plan which sets out the key infrastructure requirements for the borough.
For 2019-20 we have allocated funding to the following schemes:
• Sustainable movement corridor
• A331 / A31 junction improvements
• Guildford town centre transport improvements (Scheme LRN1 in the local plan infrastructure delivery plan)
• Walnut Bridge Replacement (part of the above town centre transport improvements scheme LRN1 in the local plan infrastructure delivery plan)
• Slyfield Internal Estate Road
• Guildford Park car park redevelopment
• Middleton Industrial estate redevelopment
• Continue with the crematorium rebuild project
We have also secured £28 million of inward investment from external agencies, such as EM3 LEP and Homes England, to help deliver the ambitions of the local plan, the supporting infrastructure delivery plan, and the town centre regeneration strategy.
Cllr Manning adds: “To address the budget gap, we will continue to build on the £11 million of savings made in the last five years and with our plans to transform our services to make them more efficient and cost effective. We are also lobbying the government to try to improve funding.
“Despite all these pressures, we aim to maintain the second lowest share of Council Tax in Surrey when the Council considers the final 2019-20 budget. It’s not going to be easy, and we face some difficult decisions, but we are determined to keep our residents at the centre of everything we do.”