No cuts to services commitment in Council budget proposal

Published Monday, 15 February 2021

The Council is proposing no cuts to local services as it finalises its budget for 2021/22.

The Local Authority will set out its budget report at its council meeting on 23 February with £38m earmarked to fund cost pressures and income losses in council services affected by COVID-19. The Council will also be proposing a 1.9 per cent rise in Council Tax and an Adult Social Care precept of 3 per cent.

The total 4.9 per cent increase, if supported, will mean a rise in bills equivalent to around £1.25 or less a week for a typical Coventry household.

Enormous uncertainty after 2021/22 only allows for short term planning dictated in large part by the need to manage the current and pressing challenges facing the Council and the city due to national and international responses to Coronavirus.

The Council is also announcing a £220m capital funding programme in 2021/22.

Over the next five years the Capital Programme is estimated to be £480m as part of ongoing massive investment delivered by and through the Council. However, the programme and the large amounts of external grants that are generated, can only be spent on allocated building and development schemes and not on day-to-day council services.

Cllr Richard Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We are having to make really difficult decisions about how we maintain services and a 1.9 per cent Council Tax rise, plus 3 per cent that has been forced upon us by central government. 

“The 3 per cent of this covers elements of adult social care. The government should be funding this directly, but instead, it has passed on the bill to the Council. 

“Finance officers have been looking at every way to ensure efficiency savings, and balance the Local Authority’s finances during an exceptionally difficult period and we have to continue planning under very uncertain conditions.

“I’ve said already that it feels as though we are steering a boat through extraordinary stormy waters, while bailing furiously just to keep afloat. We desperately need the government to help fund a major repair, but all they are doing is giving us an extra bucket to bail with and then asking residents to pay for it.” 

Cllr Brown said he was more optimistic about the scale of building and development schemes in the city. He added: “Despite this picture we are announcing no cuts to services while setting out a £220m capital funding programme of building and developments. With £165m (75%) coming from external funding from outside the city. 

“This capital funding is absolutely crucial, because it strengthens the financial sustainability of the city and supports growth, economic development and job creation. The Council is committed to continuing to invest and take bold decisions to improve the city and strengthen the Council’s future financial position.”

Councillor Brown added: “The Council will not be reducing front line services and the approach taken is to try and manage the Budget position through a range of technical measures, including using one-off resources from reserves.

“Looking ahead, as we navigate through the pandemic, we will have to wait to see whether the years of government austerity has ended or simply paused in the coming months.”

The Final Local Government Finance Settlement has provided local government with broadly the same level of core funding in 2021/22 compared with 2020/21.

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