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Cornwall Council's Budget Gets A Shake Up

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5:35am 4th November 2014
(Updated 5:35am 4th November 2014)

Plans for almost 200 million pounds worth of cuts in Cornwall get a shake-up.

The Council has re-jigged its budget proposals after a public consultation, to try to protect frontline services.

There will be more cash for adult social care and to protect rural bus routes.

Plans to scrap some school crossing patrols are being put on hold, while officials carry out a risk assessment.

There will also be a new contract to maintain lifeguard cover.

Some areas, like community safety and the waste and transport budget, will face higher savings and Cornwall Council says it will have to dip into its cash reserves, to allow time for the changes to be implemented.

A number of suggestions for savings put forward by Members, Council staff, local residents, businesses and partners during one of the most comprehensive public consultations ever held by Cornwall Council are being recommended to the  Cabinet when it meets to discuss its four year budget and business plan next week.

The Council published its draft proposals for saving £196m over the next four years in September. Since then the proposals have been considered in detail by Members at meetings of the Council's Portfolio Advisory Committees, by Council staff and at 19 public and 10 partner consultation events across Cornwall where members of the public, organisations and partners were asked for their views on where cuts and savings could be made and to come up with any suggestions for increasing income.  Members of the public were also able to give their views via the Council's website or through comment forms available in libraries and one stop shops or by post.

All 1,499 comments and suggestions made during the consultation have now been considered by members of the Cabinet and a number of the suggestions have been incorporated in the revised budget proposals which will be formally considered by the Cabinet on 5 November.

Council Leader John Pollard said: "We have had an unprecedented response to this year's consultation, with more than 1,000 people attending the budget consultation events and hundreds more sending us their comments and suggestions via our website, through libraries and one stop shops, or by post.

"I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to look at the proposals and then come back to us with their views."

The original draft budget and business plan focused on the priorities set out in the new Council Strategy to protect services for the most vulnerable in society (including vulnerable adults, children, older people and the poorest), public transport, and road repairs and maintenance. The importance of protecting these areas has also been highlighted in this year's budget consultation where protecting the most vulnerable and roads and transport issues were at the forefront of discussions.

There were also calls for the Council to do more to generate income, manage contracts more efficiently and identify further efficiencies in areas such as management and staffing to help protect front line services where possible.  All these areas are included in the revised budget proposals, which identify £29m to be delivered from income generation opportunities, and £31m savings to come from the Council's pay bill.

"We have considered all the responses and have made a number of changes to the original proposals as a result of this feedback" said John Pollard.

"We have not been able to take every suggestion on board but, where this has not been possible, we have explained the reasons for this decision."

The main changes to the original budget proposals include:  

  • Increasing the Adult Social care budget by £3.8m to cover the previous year's overspend thereby protecting services to the most vulnerable.
  • Reducing the level of savings required from the Discretionary Rate Relief scheme which provides business rate relief support for charities and non profit making organisations from £800,000 to £400,000 in 2017/2018. This will help minimise the impact on charities and clubs which work with the most vulnerable people in Cornwall.
  • Protecting the rural bus network which helps local residents to access  education, employment and social activities across Cornwall.
  • Reducing the funding to voluntary and community organisations by £400,000 to reflect the work which is taking place to reduce duplication and operating costs by sharing staff and buildings, develop a new way of commissioning services and the potential for funding from the Government's £320m Transformation Challenge Fund.
  • Increasing the efficiency savings and income from Community Safety by £413,000.
  • Delaying the implementation of the School Crossing Patrols savings to enable a comprehensive risk assessment to be carried out.   
  • Increasing savings from waste budget by £210,000 over the four years mainly from additional income from the energy to waste contract but with some reduction to the opening hours at Household Waste Recycling Centres.
  • Through working in partnership with the RNLI we have agreed a new contract which will maintain the same level of lifeguard cover on the 57 beaches supported by the Council with a reduced contribution of £950,000.
  • Increasing savings from the Transport and Waste budget by £324,000 in 2017/2018. This will be delivered by savings from the development of an integrated transport network for Cornwall and improvements from investment from the Government's Growth Deal.
  • Additional £1.7m savings from the pay bill as the result of the collective agreement in relation to contribution related pay.
  • Using reserves to support the budget to allow time for the significant structural changes to be implemented and new models of service delivery to be developed. In particular this will allow additional time to work with local communities and town and parish councils to develop alternative models for libraries and help the private sector to develop a sustainable model for the tourism promotion activities led by Visit Cornwall over the longer term."

Following the meeting of the Cabinet on 5 November, the final decision will be made by Members at the meeting of the full Council on 25 November.

5:35am 4th November 2014

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