Proposals to balance a major £8m growth strategy with £25.6m budget cuts over the next three years have been approved by Redcar and Cleveland Council.
But the local authority is having to cut 100 jobs over the same period.
The three-year plan agreed today (Tuesday) focused on dealing with another dramatic reduction in the government’s grant to the council.
The budget strategy, known as Shaping Our Future 3 (SOF3), also focuses on growth and protecting both the most vulnerable people in society and frontline services including libraries and bin collections.
Council leader Sue Jeffrey said: “This was an extremely difficult decision for everyone at cabinet.
“None of us came into public service to make cuts. However we are dealing with severe Government grant reductions. Our plan is still ambitious for our area.
“We have an £8m strategy to invest in our towns and communities to encourage job creation. And we are determined to protect the most vulnerable in our society while also continuing to provide first rate frontline services including bin collections and libraries.”
The council’s workforce will be reduced by up to 100 during the next three years but it is expected that compulsory redundancies will be kept to a minimum.
As part of the £8m growth strategy the council will focus on promoting the area as a prime tourism destination and will set aside £250,000 to attract and promote events like the Festival of Thrift and the Tour de Yorkshire.
The annual budget from April 2017 to March 2018, including the new Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept, will be set by full council in February.
Redcar and Cleveland Council has already made cuts of £67m since 2010 due to the reduction in government grant money.
Key decisions include:
Waste and Recycling
SOF3 proposals include cutting the budget by £500,000 by 2019/20. The Council is determined to maintain the current frequency of bin collections but expects to encourage greater recycling to reduce costs. It is also expected that the council will increase revenue by expanding its commercial waste services, e.g. dealing with trade waste.
Government expects councils to raise income each year from the sources open to them, including increasing the council tax, adult social care precept, and fees and charges.
So, we propose a 2% increase which would raise £1.1million per annum and cost someone paying full Band D council tax, £1.06 per week extra to support services to our communities and vulnerable people.
Fees and Charges
Some charges are set nationally but just over 60% are at the discretion of the Council. An inflationary increase of just over 2% is proposed in 2017/18 which is considered fair in the context of the inflation forecast. The Council is budgeting to receive a total of £23.97 million in fees and charges.
Adult Social Care Precept
The Government expects councils to raise income through the Adult Social Precept for social care, at the same time as cutting grants. Raising the precept by 2% will raise £1.1 million each year for this vital service. Currently 22% people in the borough are aged over 65 but that will rise to 27% by 2030.
Consultation will start in the run up to Christmas but the Council will continue to operate libraries in 13 locations.
Five of the libraries will be converted to ‘modern libraries,’ with reduced opening hours (31 hours a week) and include other council customer services including revenue and benefits. They would be created at Grangetown, Marske, Saltburn, Skelton and Ormesby.
There will also be five ‘community libraries’ at Brotton, Dormanstown, Laburnum (in Redcar), Roseberry and Loftus which would be open for 14 hours a week and it is hoped there will be greater volunteer and community involvement.
The mobile library will cease operation although the number of books at the schools it serves will be maintained.
It’s expected these changes will save £400,000 a year.
Streetscene (Including Street Lighting)
Overall it is expected the Council will save £600,000 a year by 2019/20. The Council proposes turning off one in three residential street lights between 1am and 5am to save £170,000 from 2017/18.
Under the proposals to be discussed by Cabinet, CCTV cameras would continue to be staffed at all times but the authority would no longer be able to respond to Cleveland Police requests to prepare footage for court, leading to savings of £140,000 a year by 2017/18 and a further £60,000 by 2018/19. Other savings would come from focusing on better targeting of grass cutting and litter picking services while at the same time increasing the number of wild flowerbeds, meadows and wildlife areas in the borough to save £110,000 a year.
Integrated Services (Children and Young People)
The Council proposes making an overall annual saving of £1.5 million at the same time as demand is rising. It is expected that more effective and earlier family intervention as well as avoiding the duplication of services may actually improve performance for our young people while at the same time delivering £428,000 of the cuts. Other savings and improvements will come from offering better emotional support to looked-after children and recruiting more, in-house foster carers.
Care and Health Integration (including Adult Social Care)
The Council helps about 7,000 often vulnerable adults every year while at the same time the number of people aged over-80 is expected to rise by 70 per cent in the next 15 years. Overall it is expected the amount the council spends on adult care will rise by £180,000 by 2019/20 due to the increasing pressures and anticipated rises in the Adult Social Care precept. However the Council must still make cuts worth about £5.4m to keep the budget under control.
Savings will come from helping people maintain their independence by offering improved support in the community; working with other health care services and councils and sometimes pooling resources.
Community-Based Public Health
The Council proposes saving £1.1 million a year, partly by better targeting (eg, focusing on working to reduce smoking on the most risky groups, including pregnant women) and collaborating with other health care providers across South Tees.
We will review the fleet and our contracts, and it’s expected that better mapping, fuel efficiencies and working with partner agencies will save £500,000 a year.
Capital Programme (Making Growth Happen)
Despite the cuts, the Council is determined to invest in the area to help create thousands of new jobs (the target for the Tees Valley is to create 25,000 new jobs). The Council will consider taking advantage of historic low interest rates to invest £5 million in town centres and £1 million for ‘Public Realm’ environmental improvements in other areas and £2 million in industrial estates.