Since 2010, the Council has saved £96m through efficiencies, income and policy choices and new ways of working. We have seen many successes through this approach such as collaborative working with neighbouring authorities, for example we have a joint procurement service with Stockport and Rochdale which is driving efficiencies on staffing and joint contracts and also in July 2015 an agreement was signed with Amey LG for the provision of a range of environmental, highway and professional services which will provide further cost savings to the Council.
The precise details of future Government funding will not become clear until December, however, based on the best information available it is believed that the Council will need to make total savings of £21.1m in 2016/17, which is approximately 14.2% of our net budget (£148.914m). By 2018/19 we need to have saved £43m.
Whilst the Council has some autonomy in how it allocates its budget to services, in the main the Council has a statutory obligation to provide a specific standard of some services by law. These services are called mandatory services and the majority of these services are related to children, adult social care and health and wellbeing.
The Council also has to pay levies to Transport for Greater Manchester and the Waste Disposal Authority and the Council is obliged to pay any increase on these levies for these services.
2016/17 will be the seventh national austerity budget whilst the Government addresses the national deficit and despite this challenge Trafford remains committed to value for money - having one of the lowest council taxes in the country and a good record of managing our time and money wisely.
The savings target of £21.1m for 2016/17 is a result of:
- £10.0m reduction in funding, consisting of £7.3m reduced sustainable Government funding, £3.4m reduction of one off contributions from business rates and reserves in 2015/16 offset by additional income of £(0.7)m from an estimated increase in growth from our Council Tax base.
- Inflation, increasing public expectation and demographic pressures in key services, increasing charges from levying bodies for waste disposal and some reduction in income totalling another £11.1m.
The use of reserves will be assessed for release to support the 2016/17 budget, albeit these will not provide a sustainable means of balancing the budget.
The Council does have discretion to consider an increase in council tax but legislation requires it to hold a referendum if it proposes an increase above a national threshold. In recent years this threshold has been set at 2% and raising the Basic Amount of Council Tax by 1.99% would raise an additional sum of £(1.598)m which is modest compared to the scale of challenge it faces. If an increase above the referendum trigger was agreed, to avoid a substantial element of the savings having to be made, it would pass on a significant financial burden onto its residents.
Where does the money come from?
The size of the Council’s budget, or level of approved expenditure, is entirely limited by how much income and funding the Council receives. Central Government is a significant contributor of funding and income and greatly influences spending levels.
The current net revenue budget is £149m, and after excluding Council Wide budgets of £24m (which cover central costs such as debt repayment and levies) leaves a net controllable service budget of £125m.