Bridging the gap crucial as budget challenges continue

See the updated budget plan for the council

County council's budget proposals

Significant investment to cover growing costs and service demand, wide-ranging savings and a Council Tax increase all feature in an updated budget plan, as councils across the country face unprecedented challenges. 

Leicestershire County Council’s latest proposals, published today (Thursday), set out investing £129m more to meet growing demand, mainly in social care, and an extra £113m to cover inflation and the National Living Wage increase. 

They propose balancing the books next year using £6m of reserves – the first time this has been required - and forecast a budget gap of £83m by 2028 after planned savings. 

A three per cent Council Tax increase for core services - and a two per cent increase in the adult social care precept – generating in total £18m more for front line services - is planned from April. 

Scaling back waste site closures, subject to consultation, is also included in the draft strategy which has been updated to reflect the extra Government funding announced last week. 

It’s good news that the Government has listened to local government’s very real and pressing concerns, and we welcome the extra funding.  

It halves the reserves we need to use to balance the books next year. But it’s far from a sustainable solution and does nothing to help with the budget shortfall in later years. 

We remain a well-run council and have saved £262m since 2010 - but spiralling costs and service demands mean this is still the toughest budget we’ve ever faced.

Council leader, Nick Rushton

In February, residents are set to be asked for their views on proposals to use an extra £100k to keep Shepshed waste site open two days a week and Market Harborough and Kibworth open seven days a week between the two sites. 

Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for waste, added: “Despite these challenges, we’ve listened and responded to people’s concerns – we’ve heard just how important waste sites are for our residents and are proposing to scale back plans and keep the Market Harborough and Shepshed sites open part time.” 

Councillor Lee Breckon, cabinet member for resources, said: “We recognise that the Government is facing big financial pressures - but there are national changes that could provide much-needed support to councils outside of local government funding reform.  

“Our focus is on delivering the best services we can. Major redesigns are already in progress but we now need to go even further and identify other options for bridging the longer term £83m budget gap.” 

The four-year budget plan includes: 

  • A £6m budget shortfall next year – rising to £33m in 2026, £60m in 2027 and £83m in 2028 

  • £127m more mainly to support vulnerable people – to pay for more home and residential care, and support people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and mental health needs 

  • An extra £113m - to cover inflation and the National Living Wage increase 

  • Major redesigns of services to manage future demand, including: 

o   Special educational needs and disabilities - a new approach balancing growing demand for support with getting children the right help 

o   Working with Barnardo’s to run children’s homes locally 

o   Boosting ‘supported living’ - over 100 new placements created since 2020, enabling people with learning and physical disabilities and mental health needs to learn life skills and live independently 

o   Rolling out ‘care technology’ - over 2,600 pieces of equipment, including falls detectors and GPS location trackers, installed over last year, benefiting over 1,000 people 

  • £39m of savings – including redesigning services, reducing the cost of back-office support services by maximising digital technology and smarter procurement 

  • An extra £400k to help the council do more to tackle flooding - after 500 homes flooded across the county in the wake of Storm Henk in the New Year 

  • £2.7m money to maintain roads and fix potholes - including £2.2m of Government ‘Network North’ money     

  • A £445m four-year capital pot – including £18m to improve bridges, roll out flood alleviation projects and improve road surfaces   

The proposals will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next Friday (9 February) – watch online.

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