Medium Term Financial Plan 2018 - 2022 (proposals)
On 12 December 2017 Cabinet considered a proposed medium term financial plan (2018-2021/22) for the Council. Full details can be found in the Cabinet papers. Cabinet agreed that the proposal should be put forward for consultation therefore the public are invited to give their views on the proposal by 2 February 2018 (extended from 24 January 2018).
Although delivering the 2016 - 2020 medium term financial plan (MTFP) has been extremely challenging, as we approach the halfway point we remain on target to achieve it and we now need to look ahead at proposals for a MTFP for 2018 - 2022.
The ongoing challenge of delivering our Core services should not be underestimated. To enable us to maintain services at current levels the Council proposes a 1.99% increase in Council Tax and a 3% social care levy, as recommended by the Government, to help fund Adult Social Care for 2018/19 and subsequent years.
UPDATE - Following the announcement of the Local Government Funding Settlement just before Christmas, the Council is now considering a 2.99% Council Tax increase, plus a social care precept of 3% (5.99% in total) for 2018/19. This proposal will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday 9 January. Please follow this link for more information.
However, there is also some positive news. Due to prudent investment, increased income, further reductions to senior management (including removing the Chief Executive post), and use of some unallocated reserves; the Council has been able to release an additional £4.4m over the next four years which will be added to our futures fund. The futures fund is a one off pot of money that will be available for the period of the MTFP to support main priorities and improve main services that have been hit the hardest. We can use this for one off investments, short term revenue activities, or a combination of the two.
UPDATE: £4.4m had been identified to boost main council services. Following the publication of the MTFP proposals a combination of factors has led to uncertainty over the amount that will ultimately be available for this purpose. They include: the recent announcement relating to the national pay awards for public sector workers and the fact the council is awaiting details of the local government financial settlement. Cabinet has decided to proceed with a public consultation on how any additional money – regardless of the amount – should be spent. By the time this consultation ends, on 24 January, the position should be clearer.
We want to use these additional funds to help support main priorities and improve main services that have been hit the hardest; but first we want to hear residents’ views on how best to spend this money under five suggested themes:
- Reducing anti-social behaviour in the town centre or neighbourhoods.
- Working with the Police, communities and landlords to improve neighbourhoods.
Maintaining a clean street environment
- Return grass cutting to 12-15 day cycles,
- Return to weekly back lane cleanse.
- A general increase in cleansing across the borough.
- A one off investments for priority areas for deep cleans and physical improvements in some areas.
Maintaining a vibrant town centre
- Flowers and cleanliness in the town centre.
- Events and markets.
- Attracting new business.
- Improving the environment.
Developing an attractive visitor economy, particularly supporting rail heritage and culture
- Celebrating our Rail Heritage and attracting more visitors.
- Having a Tourist Information Centre.
- Improving the Head of Steam.
- Match funding grants to enhance cultural activities such as theatre or dance.
- Preparing for the bi-centenary of the worlds first passenger railway.
Neighbourhood renewal projects
- Supporting families and neighbourhoods facing disadvantage and poverty.
- Schemes to improve health and education in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
- Handling some of the effects of welfare changes.
Background to our financial challenges
Since 2010/11 the Council has faced unprecedented financial challenges as a result of reductions in public sector spending. This has led to a drop in government funding in real terms of £42.4m for Darlington – a figure that is expected to increase to £51.2m in real terms by 2021/22.
It led to some hard decisions being made about the Council’s services as we had to reduce our spending by £45.4m, with the loss of 730 staff. If approved, the proposed changes will mean a total reduction in senior management costs of £2.7m since 2010. Reducing our spending was necessary as we are legally required to set a balanced budget so we had to align our budget with our anticipated costs and income.
These reductions have come at a time when demands for Council services are increasing, particularly in social care, and despite our best efforts to minimise the effect, the level of funding cuts has been so severe it has inevitably been felt by residents and people using our services.
In 2016, an in-depth review of Council services was followed by a detailed public consultation, which resulted in a four-year budget being set to fund the broad ranges of services the Council must provide by law – our Core Offer - everything from adult social care to winter maintenance.
Find out more and have your say
Full details of the 2018 - 2022 budget proposals can be found in the Cabinet papers. You can also read our full press release about the proposed changes. We understand that people may still have questions to ask. We will try to capture questions from the feedback forms, email correspondence and comments on social media and will start to post answers on a dedicated questions and answers page.
The consultation on the proposals started on 13 December 2017 and will run until 24 January 2018. Following the consultation, feedback will be considered by Cabinet before being put to full Council for a decision in February 2018.
Please give us your views by completing an online form [opens a new window]. Alternatively, we can provide the feedback form in other formats upon request. To request an alternative format, please contact the Strategy and Performance team on 01325 406080 or email [email protected].