A lot has changed over the past few months which has meant that we’re facing tough challenges ahead. We’re doing everything we can as a council to support our residents and businesses across the borough.
In the background, we’ve been working with our partners to develop a Recovery and Renewal Strategy which sets out how we’ll work to restore our borough and help communities to move on from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We can only do this if we all work together to make sure that our work to recover and transform Barnsley truly takes effect.
We have learnt lessons from the pandemic and seen lots of positive developments which we want to keep, to rebuild a better Barnsley and action regeneration in our communities.
Our purpose is clear, and we must continue to support you and your families to positively move on from the pandemic. This includes:
- Supporting our residents and businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Helping vulnerable children and adults who need support.
- Helping services to restart and businesses reopen safely, and in line with changing Government guidelines.
- Reviewing and revise our budget to ensure we can deliver the services people need.
- Celebrating the contributions made by people and commemorate the loss of those across the borough.
- Supporting the health, social, economic and political wellbeing of our communities to recover and renew.
- Aligning our plans to our Barnsley 2030 vision and ambitions.
Our strategy sets out five themes that we’ll focus our efforts on as part of our recovery and renewal plans; these include:
Health and wellbeing
- Continue to help to reduce and suppress infection across the borough and restore the health and wellbeing of Barnsley people.
- Support people affected by increased social isolation and other social impacts of the virus.
- Provide mental health and wellbeing support to residents and employees.
- Protect jobs and keep people in work.
- Bring back business confidence.
- Keep our high streets and visitor attractions safe and welcoming.
- Protecting the most vulnerable people in society.
- Ensuring our communities are strong and resilient and are able to thrive after Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Preventing people from falling into crisis.
Education and skills
- Safely return children and young people to early years settings, schools and post-16 learning.
- Children and young people supported to catch up and succeed in learning.
- Ensure adults can access learning to improve their wellbeing and employability.
- Further improve access to digital and online learning for all.
Infrastructure and the environment
- To safely reinstate public transport services and restore public confidence.
- Progress with our infrastructure and transport projects.
- Continue to support active travel and other modes of transport across the borough and build on our zero-carbon ambition.
We’re continuing with plans to create our Barnsley 2030 vision and ambitions, although the current crisis will change how we deliver this. We are, together with the Barnsley 2030 Steering Group committed to building a clear view of our future following on what you told us as part of the engagement activity in January and February. We will be providing you with an update on this shortly.
Challenges we’re facing as a council
We could never have imagined, or fully planned, for how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected our borough.
The additional cost of dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and maintaining critical services far exceeds the £18 million Government funding we've received to date. The expected loss of income from council tax, business rates and other charges is anticipated to contribute to an overall funding gap, after the funding from Government, in the region of £20 million.
One positive is that we have an excellent track record for sound financial management, and we came into the new financial year with a positive outlook. We're continuously looking at the council's financial position as the data is frequently changing, but it's clear that this is a significant challenge for us, and it will have an immediate impact, as well as in years to come.
We have to make difficult decisions about how we deliver our services, but our aim is always to keep critical services running for our residents while protecting the most vulnerable in our society. These are not easy decisions to make, and we understand from the previous years of austerity measures, the effect that this has on our residents.
It's a challenging position to be in, and we'll be planning how we manage our budget deficit over the coming months.