Cabinet backs budget proposals, including 5.99% rise in council tax

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Cheshire East Cabinet have today (Tuesday, 6th February) backed the Council's budget plans for 2018 to 21 which includes a proposal to increase council tax by 5.99%.

This follows a pre-budget consultation, launched in November, which set out initial proposals for how the council could target resources more effectively and save money – while achieving balanced finances.

It is now proposed to that Council Tax be increased by 5.99 per cent. This would add up to £1.28 per week to the average household Council Tax bill. A Band D property bill would rise from £1,324.92 to £1,404.28 – an increase of £1.53 per week.

This follows a 4.99 per cent increase in 2017 and a 3.75 per cent increase in 2016, after five years of Council Tax freeze.

Key proposals include earmarking £2m from the New Homes Bonus scheme, to be used in our communities, though the method for doing this is still under consideration.

The proposed revenue budget is balanced for 2018-19 with net revenue spending of £267.9m and total capital investment of £326.1m identified over the next three years. A total of £197m is estimated to be spent over the next three years on maintaining and improving our highways network.

Cheshire East invited feedback from residents, businesses, councillors, staff, town and parish councils and other stakeholders to inform decisions.

As a result of people's comments the Council amended some of its proposed savings which included:

● Keeping all libraries open – axing proposals to close those in Alderley Edge, Disley and Prestbury;

● A reduction in the savings to be found from highways from £500,000 to £150,000; and

● Scaling back a reduction to bus route subsidies from £1.57m to £1.1m – ensuring 97 per cent of subsidised services are retained.

The latest financial reports take place against a challenging background of big reductions in government grants to councils and rising demand for both adult social care and children in care.

For Cheshire East, this means expected reductions of central government grants, inflationary costs and rising demand totalling more than £70m over the next three years.

Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for finance and communications, said: "These reports, backed by cabinet, outline how the council has continued to build on the achievements of recent years and maintains strong overall financial health, performance, resilience and value for money.

"This financial year presented a number of challenges for all UK local authorities, as issues such as inflation and increasing demand in care services for children and adults were compounded by falls in government funding – a funding reduction totalling £12.4m for Cheshire East. This is set to fall by a further £12.9m in 2018/19.

"In Cheshire East, the number of residents receiving care and support from adult social care is increasing by four per cent a year and the number of children in social care placements has increased by 17 per cent in the last year, in line with other councils.

"Adult social care services across the whole country experienced rising caseloads and increasing complexity of care needs, as well as rising costs from minimum wage requirements for care providers. However, these factors were particularly significant for Cheshire East, as the number of people aged over 65 is already above the national average – and is rising faster than average.

"The council's net expenditure on adult social care services was almost £100m in 2016/17, which is equivalent to three-times the required spending on any other service area. This council will always prioritise services for vulnerable people, despite the financial challenges. But this means other services will have to deliver savings.

"Robust action is being taken across the authority to reduce budgetary pressures and ensure balanced finances – as we have successfully done in previous years. And we will be lobbying the government again to ensure future financial settlements will continue to allow us to achieve this, while protecting essential frontline services.

"We are aware, however, that local areas have differing priorities and, to support this, the budget contains a proposal to set aside £2m of revenue from the New Homes Bonus over the next two years.

"Against a backdrop of challenging circumstances, it is pleasing to note the council is set to deliver a financial outturn within 0.05 per cent of its net budget in 2017-18, in line with our forecast, with a projected overspend of just £100,000 out of a net budget of £264.8m. It is also delivering significant achievements against the council's corporate plan and wider business plans that will help ensure Cheshire East remains a great place to live, work, visit and do business."

Jan Willis, Cheshire East Council's director of finance and procurement, said: "There is a fine balance between making efficiencies in services and still enabling services to meet residents' needs. This council will continue to look for innovative ways to make every pound deliver the best outcome for local people."

The budget and Council Tax for 2018-19 will be decided by a vote of elected members at the February 22nd meeting of full council.

Tags:
Cheshire East Cabinet, Cheshire East Council, Council Tax
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 5:56 pm
This shambolic under performing council never fails to disappoint does it ?. They waste millions of pounds of our money and they just pass on their own financial inadequacies and failures to the residents to let them keep on frittering our money away. ABSOLUTE DISGRACE !
DELETED ACCOUNT
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 6:16 pm
"There is a fine balance between making efficiencies in services and still enabling services to meet resident's needs".

It would be good to see Cheshire East do either.
Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 6:40 pm
Anyone else get a 6% pay rise this year? No, thought not.

Yet these incompetent clowns want us to believe "it maintains strong overall financial health, performance, resilience and value for money." How exactly does paying more for getting less = value for money?

Still, they somehow have to fund the £750K on garden leave for its failed leaders and £1.5m for spin doctors though. Funny how this spending is never threatened, no matter how impoverished councils claim to be.

as for the New Homes Bonus. Well, Cheshire East have been stealing this from us for the past 5 years. Wilmslow will generate £7.5m of it but will now have a chance of pitching for a share of £2m of it along with every other town in the borough.

Excuse me if I feel extremely underwhelmed by this fraud.

Okay, the £2m wouldn't be on the table at all if I hadn't complained about it after becoming an independent councillor but that's not the point. The point is Cheshire East has underfunded Wilmslow for years and treats it like a cash machine. Always taking money out, never putting money in. This is just another example of the contempt it holds for the town.

What can we do about it? Well not much as they don't listen. Just remember this though until May 2019, when you next get the chance to tell them of what you really think of their "value for money".

Cllr Mark Goldsmith Wilmslow Town Council (Residents of Wilmslow)
Alan Brough
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 8:50 pm
@ Mark Goldsmith,

I agree entirely with your assessment of the fiasco and will continue to wait patiently for the opportunity to correct the obvious error in May 2019!
Russell Young
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 5:30 pm
A council full of the otherwise unemployable. Shows doesn't it ?
Maria Quin
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 5:34 pm
Absolutely agree with all the above comments and still find the frauds thieving and corruption incredulous!! We could do with a modern day Robin Hood and his Merry (and decent) Men?? I’m a great believer in Karma - just wish she’d get a wigglevon with these bandits!!
Terry Bowes
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 6:41 pm
“Proposals for how the council could target resources more effectively and save money – while achieving balanced finances.”

The only resources left to target are your regular working, home owning folk, not forgetting pensioners who have saved as the government suggested so as to get hammered when they retire. This outfit will chip away till we are all on benefits.
Julie Lowe
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 8:09 pm
How is it that 2 weeks following the demise of Carilion the government can arrange a select committee meeting to take the directors of this private company to task and yet they seem happy to let our incompetent council continue to squander public money so shamelessly? Why isn't our MP demanding action?
Nick Jones
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 9:39 pm
Merge East and West ASAP, get rid of the duplication, and stop paying £1million plus Vat @ 20% for the service to spin doctors to make this sound like a good idea...
The many millions fiscally frittered by these incompetents is well documented on these pages. They have gone too far. Enough is Enough !
Clive Cooksey
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 8:48 am
Well bless them. Somebody has to pay for their index linked pensions when they retire early!
Laurie Atterbury
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 12:03 pm
Why don’t councils collect tax from people who are able to pay but don't own houses/businesses? My wife and I pay the same as 4 wage earners living in a similar house on the same road. Gets right up my nose and sick of being ripped off.
Vince Chadwick
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 1:13 pm
Laurie Atterbury, Margaret Thatcher attempted to address that but it got dubbed 'Poll Tax'.

I was passing the Town Hall the other day and I'm sure I saw Dick Turpin's horse hitched outside.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 2:43 pm
The whole issue of council tax/business rates is outdated, expensive to run and difficult to justify. When I disovered that all public buildings are "rated" I was amazed to read about a group of workers whose job it was to measure comprehensively a hospital to work out the business rates due so the hospital could obtain the cash from the area health grant and then pay it to the government via the council. The lunatics etc. etc
The simple answer is to get rid of all the public employees involved in the whole system and put the whole bill onto VAT. The more you spend the more you pay so the four or five worker family in their semi will pay their dues. Why should a tax purely depend on the size of your home?
Martin Duguid
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 4:17 pm
There is only one way to end this litany of failure...... Do NOT vote conservative in the 2019 local elections. Let's have a council of independents with only one agenda - the interests of the community.
Richard Birchall
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 5:00 pm
@ Martin Duguid

I couldn't agree more, we complain endlessly about our Tory Council and reward incompetence with voting them back in year after year, in fact decade after decade.
John Gibbons
Friday 9th February 2018 at 3:51 pm
15 comments on here. None mention the massive reduction in central government grants to local authorities since 2009, or the huge increase in statutory services councils have to provide for adults and children.
These increases are happening across almost every single local authority.
Laurie Atterbury
Tuesday 13th February 2018 at 9:04 am
John Gibbons noted. It’s like I said earlier councils need to fund the shortfall from central gov’t by taxing wage earners in the community that don’t own houses and/or businesses. We are the easy option as they know where we are!