- A balanced budget for 2019-2020.
- Next 12 months will be critical in planning for the future past 2020.
- £107 million savings made since 2010, including £5.8 million to be made during 2019-20.
- 40 per cent reduction in the number of jobs across the council since 2010, with 36 potential job losses during 2019-20.
- Continued investments in those areas that help build and facilitate Barnsley’s economy.
- Focus on early help in providing assistance and intervention as soon as it’s needed.
- Proposed that the council’s component of the council tax will increase by 4.49 per cent (2.99 per cent increase to help fund general services - such as bin collections, roads and our Area Council’s- and a 1.5 per cent increase ring-fenced for adult social care).
Barnsley Council’s 2019/2020 budget proposals will be considered at cabinet on Wednesday 6 February, before being formalised at Full Council on Thursday 28 February.
Despite a challenging financial climate and extensive government cuts, the council have achieved a balanced budget for 2019-20 through strong service and financial planning and efficiency processes.
In 2017, the council presented a three-year financial plan which provided a financial platform up to 2020. This plan has helped prioritise resources in line with corporate priorities and to deliver improvement, growth and future sustainability. 2019-20 marks the final year of this three-year plan. However, there remains significant uncertainty beyond 2020 and the proposals acknowledge that the next 12 months will be critical in planning for the future.
Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, leader of the council, said: “Despite the considerable financial pressures we’re under, it’s positive news that our proposals present a balanced budget for 2019-20. We’ve made tremendous progress over the last two years on our journey to improve, grow and change to become a modern sustainable future council and we’ve plans in place to maintain this momentum.
“Our current financial position might make it sound like it’s been an easy process for us; it hasn’t. Government funding reductions have forced us to make tough and unpopular decisions, as well as changing the way we deliver our services. One of the hardest decisions we have to make is the decision to raise council tax because we fully appreciate the impact that this has on our residents. It’s a tough position to be in, but our focus has always been on improving services for all of our residents. The demand for our adult and children’s social care services is still growing at the same time as Government funding continues to reduce and utilising the Government’s flexibility to increase our precept for specific Adult Social Care services is the only feasible way that we can support and look after our most vulnerable residents.
“When we look beyond 2020, we’re faced with considerable financial uncertainty. The outlook for Local Government funding beyond 2020 remains unclear and the EU exit proposals bring further uncertainty to overall public finances. It’s not going to be easy - but what we can do is be vigilant, prepare for every financial scenario and manage our resources with the long term future in mind.
“The report highlights how we propose to allocate the budget in 2019-20, while planning for the period beyond 2020. The key proposals include:
“Since 2010, the council has made budgeted savings of an estimated £107 million, including £5.8 million to be made during 2019/20. We’ve reduced the number of jobs across the council by nearly 40 per cent, with 36 potential job losses during 2019/20.
These cuts, combined with a growing demand on our services and rising inflation means the gap between the funding we receive and the cost of the services we deliver continues to widen. Despite our efforts to bridge this gap, it’s proposed that the council’s component of the council tax will increase by 4.49 per cent (this does not include the contribution paid to the police and fire services or parish council contributions). The 4.49 per cent increase includes a 2.99 per cent increase to help fund general services - such as bin collections, roads and our Area Council’s - and a 1.5 per cent increase ring-fenced for adult social care.
“We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we’ve explored a number of options to keep council tax levels as low as possible. It’s important to emphasise that the funding we raise from council tax helps us to provide you with vital services but only contributes an element of the overall funding we need in order to deliver these services across the borough.”
Facilitating and accelerating growth
“We’ll continue to invest in those areas that help build and facilitate Barnsley’s economy. 2019-20 will see continued delivery of the town centre re-development programme, including starting phase two of The Glass Works, the completion and opening of Library @ the Lightbox and construction of Market Gate Bridge, making the town centre more accessible for all.
“We propose to secure further Property Investment Funding to facilitate further commercial developments, bringing new job opportunities and inward investment to the area. We’ll build on our work to increase skills and employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities, such as the supported employment pilot that we’re currently rolling out.
“We want to provide more and better homes. We are making significant investment in housing over the next few years, both in new housing and ensuring we make the best use of our existing housing stock. This includes implementing our empty homes strategy which will support owners of empty properties return these properties into use and thereby provide much-needed homes in the borough.”
“We propose to continue our focus on early help providing assistance and intervention as soon as it’s needed. We plan to develop a new integrated Affordable Warm Homes service which will tackle fuel poverty, excess winter deaths and cold homes. We’ll prioritise improving the support pathways we offer adolescents and implement our Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy to enable our young people to achieve their potential through an enhanced programme of early help and prevention.”
“2019-20 and beyond will see our ongoing work with area councils develop as we continue to build communities we can be proud of. During 2019-20 we will continue to roll-out the principal towns programme to improve local economies and help local high streets to thrive. We’ll continue to work in partnership with Area Councils to recruit foster carers, deliver borough-wide events and implement Town Spirit across the borough.”
Diana Terris, Chief Executive of Barnsley Council, said: “We’ve made great progress in our drive to be a modern, efficient and sustainable council and an ongoing focus on this is crucial as we look beyond 2020.
“A key driver for 2019-20 will be the ongoing roll out of our recently launched Town Spirit which shows the work we’re doing to make Barnsley a great place to live, work, invest and visit. We now need to build on this to integrate and embed Town Spirit into our communities. As we look beyond 2020 with uncertainty, Town Spirit will be critical as by working together, we can achieve more than ever before to find new ways of meeting the challenges facing the borough.”
“Last year, we successfully launched our Digital First programme to modernise our internal systems and make it easier for residents to contact us and access our services online. We plan to continue delivering this programme through 2019-20. Another key area of focus this year will be our commercial strategy which will embed a more business-like culture across the organisation. Not only will this improve our services but also enhance efficiency, increase income streams and instil a more commercial mind-set. We’ll also focus on our assets - making sure we’re managing and making the best use of them to support our services.
“We know there are significant challenges ahead, but we’ll prepare for each eventuality. As an organisation, we’ll embrace change, be brave, innovative and prioritise our resources in those areas that provide long term impact and sustainable outcomes for a brighter future, a better Barnsley”.
This news is linked to Town Spirit, our new way of working better together. We believe, that if everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, we can make our borough a more welcoming place to live, work, invest and visit.
We’re committed to #ImagineIt by working to make Barnsley a place where people love to live and work, and where they can see a brighter future for themselves and their families.
#OwnIt - to find out more information about how we’re reaching our goals by reading out quarterly performance reports and supporting our plans for the future.