27/02/2014 - Permalink

Councillors agree budget for next three years

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A plan setting out how Shropshire Council proposes to make the best use of its funds and resources up until 2017, as it redesigns everything it does, was agreed today (Thursday 27 February 2014).

The Draft Council Business Plan and Financial Strategy for 2014/15 to 2016/17, which outlines what Shropshire Council’s budget will be spent on over the next three years, was approved at a meeting of full Council.

It was given the backing of scrutiny and Cabinet councillors earlier this month, and the public have also shared their views on the proposals.

The plan includes savings proposals to address a funding gap of £80 million over the next three years out of the overall annual budget of almost £600 million, and plans for new schemes and projects such as the potential development of a university for Shropshire and supported living services for adults with learning disabilities.

At today’s meeting, councillors also agreed to freeze Shropshire Council’s element of the council tax for 2014/15, for the fifth year running.

Councillor Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:

“This business plan and financial strategy shows how the council will move forward with new ways of working during the next three years.

“Back in May we set out that we would be delivering services in different ways to respond to the financial challenges ahead.

“There are savings to make and tough decisions for us – but we are not sitting back and just letting the axe fall.  We are radically changing by looking at everything we do.

“We can’t keep squeezing more and more out of the same old systems; we are focusing on what our customers need and exploring all options to get the most out of the money available.

“We are seizing opportunities for investment and developing innovative approaches such as the creation of our wholly-owned company ip&e, which gives us the freedom to create public profit.

“By taking the front foot we are in a position where we can freeze our share of the council tax again, face the pressures on the economy and the council, and have a firm basis to further develop our approach up until 2017 and beyond.”

The Business Plan and Financial Strategy has been developed since May 2013, and further refined after listening to views on the proposals and ideas on how services could run more efficiently.

Cabinet received the first draft in November 2013.  Since that date significant work has been undertaken to improve the document, to provide more details of the plans, to reflect the latest financial position, and to refine our vision for the future.

Events have been held across Shropshire to discuss the financial challenge faced by public services, and the document has been available on the council’s website for consideration and comments.  Through the council’s scrutiny process and a series of Rapid Action Groups, it has also been open to robust review by all councillors.

Following today’s meeting, the document will continue to be updated and refreshed, with the input of people across Shropshire; and more specific consultation will be undertaken, as more detail is added to individual proposals and redesign work develops further.