Council leader reveals toughest budget process ever

Trafford Council Leader Tom Ross says setting next year’s budget has been one of the toughest challenges he has faced in his political career.

However, despite an incredibly difficult financial settlement, the budget maintains the Council’s vision of making the borough a place where all residents, businesses and communities can prosper.

Schools, roads, towns, leisure centres, pupils with special needs and vulnerable adults are all to benefit from multi-million-pound spending plans despite the massive cuts in funding.

Cllr Tom Ross, Leader of Trafford Council, said:

“The massive cuts we’ve had in our financial settlements from the government over the years made this one the most difficult budget conditions Trafford has ever endured.

“Despite this we are still investing more in social care for our vulnerable children and adults. We are investing in highways to deliver safer streets. We are investing in our school infrastructure and in our Special Needs provision for our school children.

“We’re investing in our leisure centres and outdoor sports facilities so everyone can improve their health, irrespective of age or ability to pay. And we are investing more in active travel so we can secure the future of our borough for the benefit of our children and future generations.”

However, Cllr Ross warned there could well be future pain after the Council had to make £18m in savings and efficiencies, use of reserves and council tax rises to balance the budget this year due to a shortfall in funding.

He said:

“We are not out of the woods yet. Our finance team has done superbly to balance the budget this year after having to find even more savings.

“But unless we receive fairer funding from the government, the forecast is that we will have to find even more savings of £15m next year and an additional £14m the following year.

“These savings are becoming harder and harder to find each year. We are a low-funded Council compared to similar local authorities and we need fairer funding so we can continue delivering for our residents and communities.”

Overall, the Council has a revenue budget of £217.83m for 2024-25 spending and a capital budget of £154.56m over the next three years.

Under the budget proposals, the Council’s share of council tax will rise by 2.99%, with an additional rise of 2% in the social care precept, in line with government expectations.

The budget proposals will be put forward to a meeting of the Council Executive on 21 February, followed by a meeting of the full Council later that evening.

Posted on Wednesday 7th February 2024