Have your say in Shropshire Council’s budget consultation
Shropshire Council is seeking the views of residents and organisations on its budget for 2021/22, which covers the period from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.
The budget consultation provides local people and organisations with the opportunity to tell the council what they think about the proposals outlined in the Financial Strategy for 2021/22.
These proposals aim to help address the difference between the limited funding the council receives in the form of Government grants, and the increasing cost of providing services such as adult social care and children’s social care.
The council spends over £575 million every year on delivering essential services to local communities – most of which is spent on protecting the county’s most vulnerable residents.
There is a legal requirement for the council to deliver a balanced budget every year and, to enable this to happen, it is planning to deliver savings of £9.9 million in 2021/22.
Further cuts on existing budget areas are becoming more and more difficult and so the council is looking at other ways to deliver a more sustainable funding position, including bringing in income.
The main pressure on council budgets is within the revenue budget (money it can use to deliver day-to-day services), and so the council is using its capital budget (money it can only use to invest) to develop some large-scale schemes that will deliver additional income or reduced costs. These include things like the development of the Riverside in Shrewsbury, the council’s Digital Transformation Programme, and Cornovii Developments Limited, the council’s new housing company.
This should relieve the pressure on the revenue budget, meaning less savings needed on the day-to-day running of essential services.
In terms of funding, the main area that the council has control over is setting the council tax level for the next year. For 2021/22, the council is proposing a 4.99% increase to council tax, which includes a 1.99% general increase and a 3% ‘social care precept’ increase that is used specifically to fund the growing costs in social care. This is the maximum that the council can raise through council tax in this year and, if approved, it will bring in £8.2 million to help the council to deliver important services that the council is required to provide.
Peter Nutting, Shropshire Council’s Leader, said:
“The current financial year has been unprecedented for the council and has been a year like no other with coronavirus impacting on everything we do.
“In 2021/22 Shropshire Council is facing a budget shortfall. Putting it simply, our income sources are not keeping pace with the demand for our vital services. Services that protect some of our most vulnerable in our communities.
“We’ve identified many solutions to help balance our budget next year, including investing in capital schemes which generate a return on investment. Also, it’s widely understood that investing in such schemes supports economic, housing and population growth and offers a better return on investment than just keeping money in a bank.
“Please take a few minutes to find out more about our proposed savings and let us know what you think.”
To find out more and have your say, please visit www.shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved
The results of the consultation will be presented to full Council and help inform councillors when they meet to set the council’s budget for 2021/22 on Thursday 25 February 2021.
The funding mechanism for local government had been expected to change in 2021/22, bringing with it a much closer alignment of funding with the costs of social care. The challenges of dealing with coronavirus, however, have delayed announcements for at least another year. The council now expects further information during 2021, and further work can then be performed on future years’ budgets.