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Taking tough decisions and saving £200m since 2010 has helped us stay in a good position.
But tight funding, combined with increasing demand for services, means the county council has to find another £75m in savings over the next four years.
Growing need for social care and special educational needs and disability (SEND) support – plus inflation - is set to drive up costs by £94m over the next four years.
We already have plans in place to make further savings. These include:
recruiting more in-house foster carers to reduce expensive placements
reducing adult social care costs by managing demand and reviewing contracts and personal budget allocations
generating more income from property investment and commercial activity
reducing back office costs through digital technology and simplifying processes
The council is facing challenges that will lead to further reductions in spending.
This means it's time to ask residents, partner organisations, businesses and others to help us shape plans and prioritise future services.
Budget balancing tool
With this interactive tool you can try setting the budgets for each service area and set limits on the levels of income you raise. You can see the effects on the overall budget and try to reach your target.
Local government still faces severe financial challenges, as reported in the national media. A significant question mark over future local government funding - which will be a decision for the Government - combined with rapidly increasing demand, means expenditure could exceed income. Savings are identified to ensure a balanced budget until 2020, but we need to look at all options to help protect services. That’s why we are asking you to have your say.
Property investments are generating £4m income a year. With further planned investment, this is set to rise to £8m by 2022. The extra income is currently being ploughed into fixing and preventing potholes, and other front-line services, reducing the impact of national funding reductions.
In my view, unitary local government works – and we’ve started a conversation about creating a new council fit for the 21st century, simplifying and improving services, and saving £30m each year, money which can be spent on protecting and improving services. A business case, setting out what this would look like and how it would work, is being developed. I want the county council to have a settled position but we also need to consider more immediate plans.
Capital money is for one-off costs – we can’t use it to sustain services as it would run out. We have a £400m four-year programme, but there are still shortfalls for potentially match-funded major highways schemes, building the social care accommodation we need, investing in efficiency projects and further potential special education needs and disability (SEND) projects.
No it isn’t, but we have to work within expenditure limits set by Government. That’s why we want your views – so you can help shape plans and prioritise services. With growing demand ratcheting up pressure, more tough choices will be required.
Your views will tell us which services you value the most. And we will use this information to shape future plans – this includes making service reductions, if required, and also deciding which services we can invest in, if the funding is available.