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Cambridgeshire’s projected budget gap reduces – but still leaves £13m to find

23 November 2022

A forensic focus on Cambridgeshire County Council’s spending plans next year, is producing plans to reduce a projected budget gap of £29m to around £13m, Members of the Council will hear at their December meetings.

All service committees will hear that the Council has made significant progress since each of committees last met, closing the projected budget gap for 2023/24 by over £15m. But there are warnings that despite this improvement, it will still be a challenge to balance the budget for next year - which the council must do by law.

In addition, last week’s Autumn Statement confirmed higher than projected inflation and made several other changes which the council expects will add further pressures to the council’s budget next year.

“Inevitably we do not expect any funding announced to fully address these new responsibilities, or our existing underlying pressures,” said Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of the Council. “As we said last week on the day of the Autumn Statement, this is a disappointing budget which does little to address the real needs of local government, and the many people who rely on our services and support.

“I am pleased that each committee of this council has looked carefully and forensically at their areas of responsibility and the funding the Council is expecting to have available and are now putting forward proposals which could reduce the budget gap by around £15m” she added. “But we still have some way to go.”

The council has identified further potential for additional income raising through its energy generation schemes and has developed savings opportunities such as converting streetlights to more energy efficient LEDs and recycling highways material that will be discussed at committees throughout November and December. It has also looked at reviewing and managing service demand levels and has updated several projections relating to the impact of inflation.

The Chancellor did announce several further grants to support social care authorities but balancing this were changes to business rates policy and the higher-than-expected increase in the minimum wage which affects how much the council pays for social care.

“The only way we will be able to finally close the gap and set a balanced budget, is through decisions that are within the Council’s control,” said Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Elisa Meschini. “This means we will have to look closely at all those options open to us, and with very little room to manoeuvre we have to look at more savings, and more opportunities to raise income.”

Budget proposals and business planning will be discussed at the following meetings

· Children and Young People’s Committee – 2pm, 29th November

· Environment and Green Investment Committee –10am, 1st December

· Highways and Transport Committee –10am, 6th December

· Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee – 10am, 8th December

· Adults and Health Committee – 10am, 15th December

· Strategy and Resources Committee –10am, 16th December