Councillors will be discussing plans next week that will deliver a balanced budget for 2018/19, but there will be a warning of a future budget gap by 2020/21.
The local authority has set out plans that include additional financial pressures in services for children and homeless families that left it facing a shortfall in the region of £15m for 2018/19.
However, the Council has worked hard to identify ways to balance the budget next year without making further cuts to services. The budget report will be discussed at the Council meeting next week.
There is also a warning that because of further reductions in Government resources and the impact of inflationary pressures in the coming years the Council estimates a £21m shortfall by 2020/21.
At the same time the Council has been successful in driving forward its biggest ever programme of major regeneration and building schemes, by securing over £150m in external funds next year. Capital plans in the city amount to more than £900m in the next five years.
The 2018/19 budget has to tackle a significant increase in the number of Looked after Children which now exceeds 650 and the increasing cost of housing homeless people and families in temporary accommodation.
The position also reflects continued challenges in driving through existing Council savings plans within its own budgets. These challenges are offset by identifying additional resources from the amount of Council Tax available and lower costs of funding the Council’s capital investment plans.
Cllr John Mutton, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, said that it was vital that front line services should remain unaffected. He explained: “When we set out our budget a year ago we had to reduce aspects of frontline services and I am determined that this should be avoided for this year. For local people the day to day services including bin collections, street cleaning and road improvements are crucial.
“Our budget plan will be listing recommendations that will protect our most vulnerable citizens. I’m delighted that this report avoids any new cuts to Council services – in the next two years at least.
“Overall Council Tax is likely to increase for 2018/19 by approximately 4.9% although this includes 3% to reflect funding for Adult Social Care – which should have been met by Central Government but has been passed onto the people of Coventry due to the Government’s austerity programme.
“I’ve said before that it is wrong that the government should pass on the cost of adult social care to local people rather than funding this centrally.”
“At the same time we have been successful in driving forward a number of major regeneration and building schemes, by securing in the region more than £150m in external funds. Our capital plans are bigger than ever – although funding for this cannot be use on our day to day services”
The final budget proposal and the Council Tax increase will be subject to Council approval on 20 February.
See www.coventry.gov.uk/budgetreport for more details.