The Financial Challenge
The Council has to save a further £10.2m by 2020 on top of savings of around £35.5m already made. This is mostly due to cuts in real term grant funding and increasing demand and costs of services. Since 2010 our grant has been cut by 40% meaning the Council has less and less to spend on the services it provides.
In 2010 our grant per household was £661, by 2020 it will be £341 per household. There are also additional cost pressures such as the new government national living wage.
We will need to re-define what the Council can afford to provide for the Borough and people of Darlington with the money that is available.
This will be known as the Core Offer Budget – it has been developed to ensure that the Council provides the services and duties is has to by law (currently around 1,300).
However, the Core Offer falls short of what you, our residents, have come to expect from us the Council. Through many rounds of consultations we have listened to what you want us to offer and we will try our best to provide what we can.
With this in mind, we have managed our budgets to find £2.5m each year to invest in things that are not in the Core Offer Budget. This will be called our Futures Fund and it will be what services we want to offer and have been asked for and not just what we have to offer/provide by law.
The Council’s Cabinet is proposing how this should be spent and seeking views on whether this approach is right. Any addition proposed during the consultation would need to be matched with a removal or reduction.
A set of criteria has been used to decide on Darlington’s Future proposals. Your views on these criteria are also welcomed.
Cabinet Members have developed the proposals by using five criteria:-
(A) Invest funds to maintain Darlington as a place where people and business wish to live and invest.
(B) Invest to protect the most vulnerable in society.
(C) Invest to reduce costs in the future.
(D) Invest to create and develop opportunities for the future.
(E) Invest to reduce risk.
Some of the services we’ve provided in the past will have to stop. We know that the decisions on what to keep providing are important, and we’ve based them on all the feedback we’ve received from you over the years in consultations, the community survey and complaints. Now we want to hear your views on our plan. Unlike past consultations we aren’t asking what we should cut; we need to focus on what we keep. Join the conversation and on these pages.
We know that, regardless of the Council’s financial situation, Darlington is and will remain a great place to live, work and play. There’s plenty to look forward to in the future with new businesses, jobs, homes and leisure facilities to enjoy.