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Council to report on balanced budget

Published Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Council is set to announce a balanced budget for the city in 2019/20.

Senior councillors will hear details of the local authority’s annual budget report at its council meeting on Tuesday 19 February. The Council is responsible for in the region of 800 services which has an impact on all aspects of life in the city. During the past few months senior finance officers, alongside the Cabinet Member, Cllr John Mutton, have been working hard to achieve a balanced budget while continuing to fund key projects for the city. The report will also set out a proposal for an overall Council Tax increase of 2.9 per cent as allowed for within Government guidelines.

For the majority of Coventry households in the city in bands A and B this will mean an annual increase of £30.90 for band A and £36.06 – the equivalent of 70p per week for those on band B.

A final decision will require the support of councillors.

The Council has been able to balance its budget despite needing to find more money for the costs of homelessness and waste disposal.

Extra Government funds for adult and children’s social care, New Homes Bonus Grant and dividends from the part-Council owned Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Company mean that no further savings have had to be identified.

Cllr John Mutton, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources said he was pleased that frontline services would be unaffected and that no new cuts were necessary to services.

He said that the Council was able to earmark more funding for a number of key services including its work to tackle homelessness and to reduce fly tipping as well as support for the UK City of Culture programme.

He added: “We are all well aware that we have a national housing crisis with rising numbers of rough sleepers in the city centre, and hundreds of families in unsuitable B and B accommodation. We are working hard to increase the work we do to reduce homelessness and have identified a number projects to ensure more temporary accommodation is available.

“I’m also keen to see more done to address fly-tipping in communities in the city. Last year we put extra funds towards targeted fly tipping removal teams in areas where the biggest problems exist. We know that this problem still continues so we have taken a decision to make this new service permanent. Frontline services will be unaffected and no new cuts have been necessary.

“There are many councils across the country who are facing significant budget gaps, and they have talked to myself and colleagues to understand how we have overcome similar financial problems. It is only because we started working on our financial planning a number of years ago that we are able to present a balanced budget now.   

“We are maintaining frontline services and continue to support people in more difficult circumstances.”

The budget report will be discussed at the council meeting on Tuesday 19 February.

He added: “New commercial income streams have played an important part in our financial planning, while we worked hard at increasing our tax revenues, and because of technical measures we have introduced like trimming our contingency budgets.

We have tried to identify more commercial approaches, for instance by the way we manage our property assets and in how we deliver the Godiva festival, whilst making sure that it remains free for people attend the festival.”

However, the bigger picture for 2020/21 is looking much more uncertain for the local authority. In fact, the fiscal problems facing Coventry the year after next is already looking like a £17m funding gap.

Looking ahead there is still uncertainty over future government funding, greater external pressures in some of its demand led services, and continued inflationary pressures.

Other Council plans

At the same time the council is investing in the regeneration and the growth of the city. Examples include:

  • The Council’s prospective Capital Programme includes a strategic transportation programme of over £100m and up to £85m of other economic regeneration and infrastructure works including the National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility;
  • City Centre Destination Leisure Facility (The Wave Water Park);
  • the 50m pool at the Higgs Centre;
  • a new Indoor Bowls facility;
  • and the Salt Lane multi-storey car park.

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