Published on Sunday, 21st December 2014

The budget for 2015/16 has been agreed by Full Council. £13.1m worth of efficiency savings, charges and cuts have had to be made, amounting to a reduction of around 10% of controllable net expenditure, i.e. after debt interest, bus passes and the Colas contract are excluded, all of which are effectively fixed costs.


Even after saving all this money the council will be living partly on its savings this coming year – the reductions for 2015/16 are steeper than those expected in the two after and so rather than take out the full amount in one go, the council is taking out a third per year. Many other councils across England are doing likewise.


Given the scale of the savings, I think we’ve come up with a reasonable budget that manages to protect the most important services. Of course there is still plenty of pain and some things I would much prefer to see protected have had to be cut, but compared to what is happening in other cities it really could have been worse. No libraries, community centres or swimming pools are to close. Subsidised buses will remain, as will weekly bin collections and social care provision is still well above the minimum.


With so much uncertainty about where future savings will come from, it would have been wrong to spend money launching any new services when they may well have had to be taken away again next year. We did however set aside £500,000 to support the voluntary sector.


In total government support for the City Council was reduced by 13.2% in cash terms next year and by perhaps 15% in real terms. The council tax, which covers about 37% of expenditure remains unchanged. A paper explaining the numbers is available here.


Senior management and councillors are not exempt from the cuts. The top team of 20 Heads of Service or above is being reduced to 15 from April and a large councillor pay rise agreed by the previous administration has been reversed.


The capital budget will be set in February and is likely to concentrate on using new technologies to improve efficiency, cut power bills and free up office space, leading to perhaps £1m in additional savings without loss of service.

Tags : Budget