Cabinet backs budget proposals, including 2.99% rise in council tax

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Cheshire East Council's Cabinet has backed several financial reports which include a proposal to increase council tax by 2.99%

This follows a consultation period on initial proposals for how the council could target resources more effectively and save money to achieve a balanced budget – while also setting out a strategy that can achieve a sustainable financial position in the medium term.

It is now proposed to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent, which would equate to an extra 78p per week to the average household bill. A Band D property bill would rise from £1,404.28 to £1,446.27. One per cent of the proposed tax rise will be ringfenced to help meet financial pressures in children's services.

The proposed revenue budget is balanced for 2019-20 with net revenue spending of £281.2m with total capital investment of £450m identified over the next three years.

An estimated £270m over the next three years on maintaining and improving our highways.

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

The provisional budget include:

● An increase of £13.1m in overall net revenue spending on services;

● A reduction of £2.8m in government grants;

● An increase of £10.9m in council tax receipts (including from housing growth and previous year surplus); and

● An increase in business rate income of £5m.

Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for finance and communications, said: "These reports, backed by cabinet's decision today, outline how the council will continue to build on the sound achievements of recent years and maintain robust and resilient overall financial health, performance and value for money.

"This financial year once again presented a number of challenges, in common with all local authorities, as issues such as inflationary pressure of £23.3m and rising demand in care services for children in Cheshire East were compounded by falls in government funding – including a £5.4m reduction in revenue support grant. Against this background, Cheshire East continues to effectively commission services through its 'best fit' model of service providers.

"Our local response to these pressures continues to focus on innovation and creativity with a clear emphasis on further improving efficiency, productivity and establishing more-effective local delivery of services.

"Our ability to create the best conditions for private sector investment, economic growth and prosperity will be critical to the continued success of the borough as the council's reliance on locally-generated income increases.

"In the final year of the Corporate Plan 2017-20, the council is able to demonstrate the ongoing achievement of positive outcomes for local people. Education achievement rates for pupils in Cheshire East remain as one of the highest levels in the country and social care for children and adults are receiving higher levels of investment in the medium term.

"Infrastructure projects continue to unlock land and housebuilding numbers are exceeding targets. Employment is high and the number of businesses in the borough is higher than Manchester.

"Our recycling rates are in the top 10 per cent of all local authorities and our much-used libraries are in the top five in the country – while life expectancy for Cheshire East residents is also higher than both regional and national averages.

"Since local government reorganisation, the cumulative increase in council tax by Cheshire East Council is significantly lower than inflation and is among the lowest of any unitary authority in England. Cheshire East is simply a great place to be."

Alex Thompson, head of finance and performance, said: "Against a challenging financial backdrop, it is pleasing to note that the council has continued to perform strongly, delivering positive outcomes in each of the six areas identified by the corporate plan. The costs related to increasing demand for services are being mitigated by the council's success in supporting local development and manging the costs of providing services."

Cllr Bates added: "The medium-term forecasts show the extent of the financial challenge ahead but we are helping to address this by setting a balanced budget – and I am confident and determined to deliver for local residents and do everything I can to maintain Cheshire East as one of the best places in the North West to live, work, visit and do business."

Cheshire East Council is the third-largest unitary authority in the North West, responsible for delivering more than 500 services, supporting more than 370,000 local residents.

The budget and council tax for 2019-20 will be decided by a vote of elected members at the meeting of full council on Thursday, 21st February.

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.

Julian Barlow
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 8:51 am
Cheshire East have comprehensively failed us. They’ve pursued an agenda of relentless, development over quality of life for their constituents and have been totally ineffective in addressing the issues that need an urgent resolution. They’re completely divorced from the reason they exist in the first place-To serve their constituents. We’ve become an inconvenience, here only to provide a bottomless source of revenue.
Nick Jones
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 10:50 am
CEC as an entity is an expensive, unaccountable ( in both Fiscal and Moral terms) duplicitous, incompetent MESS !.They have failed for 3 years I believe, to return accounts that stand muster. Surely a budget is telling where you want cash to go ? and not wondering where the cash went ?… So now the long suffering tax payers have yet again to pay for CEC’s fiscal frivolity and inadequacies well documentyed on these pages (and not repeated - list too long).
The CEC ‘Sir Humphrey-esque’ doctrine appears to be: Take longer to do things quickly .. Make sure it's more expensive to do things cheaply… and it's more democratic to do things secretly. And as the great man himself said, ‘The public do not know anything about wasting public money , we [CEC] are the experts !
Ironically, the author of this latest demand, in charge of the CEC public purse has his own historic fiscal issues that Private Eye reported when insolvency documents identified unpaid debts to a local council. You really couldn’t make this stuff up ! . They mess it up again, We have to pay .
When are those elections ?
Manuel Golding
Saturday 9th February 2019 at 2:48 pm
Why does CEC refuse to publish a full, comprehensive, and clear & easy to follow and understand, full set of AUDITED accounts, not its usual half truths, hidden truths. A clear set of accounts, as any & all PLCs publish is desperately required by the public i.e. CECs voters & tax payers.
Everything, but everything is deftly hidden away from prying eyes, thus ensuring no one gets the real picture of the true state of the Council's finances & budget.
Who or what is Clle Bates protecting, certainly not the hard pressed voters of CEC?
CEC says it "needs" to increase the council tax but conveniently excludes sound, clearly seen accounts.
Thus it is plainly rhetorical propaganda without any fiscal basis.
The net result is the CEC tax payers are being miss-old yet another dodgy, questionable deal. And it just isn't good enough!
By their antics, CEC Conservatives clearly demonstrate they are not fit to run this council. The Independent group of councillors on CEC is calling for a dismembering of the dictatorial 8 man cabinet to be replaced by decision making via committees; at the same time clearly showing that a vote for Residents of Wilmslow's independent candidates at May's elections will be a vote for open and markedly better governance of this ill run current council.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 10th February 2019 at 9:15 pm
And now Bates is proposing to spend £29 MILLION of our money on property speculation gambling? Rather a pity that his own company went into insolvency. Is he really a fit and proper person to be in his position at CEC?
Perhaps we might want: less potholes, more buses and forget the 70% rise in parking charges?
Roll on election time; let's drain the swamp...

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