22/01/2016 - Permalink

Shropshire Council issues its latest financial strategy

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Shropshire Council has today (Friday 22 January 2016) issued its latest Financial Strategy 2015/16 – 2020/21, which sets out how it plans to tackle the biggest financial challenge in over a generation.

The Financial Strategy was presented at a special meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 28 October 2015, where details of how it could fund services in the future were discussed.

Like all councils, Shropshire Council is faced with the need to make further substantial savings in the coming years. Since 2012, it has had to save £126m as a result of central government funding cuts.

By 2021 the Government’s £43m revenue support grant – money that is paid to councils each year to help provide services – will end.

By the time this grant ends, it is estimated that the council will be a further £77m worse off, due to the combination of inflationary increases in costs and further cuts in Government grants.

These new proposals, which include changes to services and those services which could cease to be delivered by the council over the next three years, are included in this latest Financial Strategy.

The Financial Strategy will be discussed at a special Cabinet meeting to be held on Wednesday 27 January 2016.

Malcolm Pate, Shropshire Council’s Leader, said:

“Unfortunately, in order to manage the severe Government cuts, we’ve had to propose a number of changes to the 150 plus services we currently deliver, including a proposal to stop delivering some altogether.

“It’s not been easy to agree upon these, but I’m encouraged by the support which has been provided by our senior managers. They, alongside their staff, have been working extremely hard to find solutions to central government cuts.

“We’ve already started to make some headway to tackle the deficit by working with partners and the local community to redesign services and make them more cost effective, whilst maintaining quality. As a result, our adult social care services, which represent a significant proportion of budget, have been determined by external bodies as being the highest quality and the lowest cost.

“However, as there will be considerably less money, we will simply not be able to deliver the same services as we do now.”

Clive Wright, Shropshire Council’s chief executive, said:

“I must point out that our proposals indicate what we expect to be the worst case scenario and, by starting here, we give ourselves the time to develop and consider alternatives such as working with partners to hand over services or generate new income.

“We are also lobbying government to lift the cap on council tax increases before a referendum is required, which if successful could increase our income. However, in the event that alternatives are not found, then unfortunately the savings will have to be made.

“We understand that this news will create concern and anxiety for many, including our dedicated staff. We will support everyone who is impacted over the next few days, weeks and months.

“I hope that being clear on the impact of cuts will enable us all to face the challenge presented together. We will continue to look for solutions and, more than ever, your suggestions would be very welcome.”

The Financial Strategy

The revised Financial Strategy 2015/16 – 2020/21 outlines the context of the financial challenges and sets out in detail the council’s current and future budget in response to the reduction in Government funding and rising costs. Looking after vulnerable people and growing our economy will remain a priority. In preparation for this funding fallout, the council are working to support those in greatest need, and the strategy outlines those services which will remain protected. These include:

• Adult social care commissioned support

• Adult safeguarding

• Adult services – directly-provided services

• Adult services staffing

• School transport

• Child protection

• Waste collection and disposal

• Concessionary fares

• Servicing existing phased debt

Projections highlighted in the strategy also show how, due to inflation and the ageing population, the costs of providing adult social care services will continue to rise.

This will leave significantly less funding for other services. So by 2021 89% (£163m) of the budget (£188m) will be spent on those protected services.

This will leave just 11% (£25m) of money left to spend on the remaining 150 plus services the council provides to the people of Shropshire currently.

To view the financial strategy click here.

The Big Conversation

The first phase of the Big Conversation is now complete, with over 2,270 responses from residents, businesses and councillors. These have been taken into consideration as part of the revised Financial Strategy.

Many of these people have also expressed an interest in being involved in further conversations.

The Big Conversation will continue over the next five years, meaning that people’s comments and views will constantly help shape the future of services delivered, or not, by the council.

To find out more, please click here.