Over the last decade the Council, alongside the majority of other local authorities, has experienced unprecedented financial challenges in various forms and have had to adapt to; the impact of severe, unprecedented, central government funding reductions; radical reform of the methodology for funding local government - where councils are self-sufficient; changes in the use and demand for services; as well as escalating costs.
In response to this challenging financial environment the Council has embraced a forward thinking, ambitious and commercial approach in maintaining a sound financial position. We have a strong track record of planning ahead, securing savings in advance, shifting away from traditional cost cutting exercises to more ambitious and forward thinking opportunities, re-investing in more efficient ways of working, adopting a more commercial approach, prioritising resources for economic development measures, whilst making careful use of reserves to meet funding gaps and mitigate risks. This is an approach that has served the Council well and allowed us to deliver savings in excess of £8.5 million over a ten-year period, a significant reduction in comparison to the overall net expenditure budget.
That is not to say though that the Council will not continue to have to navigate a difficult financial path in the forthcoming years in order to maintain a sustainable financial position. Although there is a significant level of uncertainty about future funding, it is current projected that there will be a budget gap of £1.25 million which the Council must close to ensure it’s financial sustainability. Although closing a gap of this size is a huge challenge it is not unprecedented and the Council should have the confidence that it has a track record of delivering strong financial discipline and that it can rise to the challenge once again.