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Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed a proposal to set a 2019/20 budget today (Feb 5) which continues to protect and invest in vital services, and puts service transformation and commercialisation before considering service cuts.

Choosing between a range of options to bridge a gap between expected funding and the cost of predicted demand to be more than £13m, the council supported an amendment put forward by Council Leader Steve Count.

Included in the amendment supported by the Council was that the council’s budget should; 

Continue to invest in vital services aimed at vulnerable adults & children and increasing funding on highways repairs, which means

  • £45m in additional spending planned for adult and children’s services over the next five years.
  • £18 million additional spending planned for highways improvements in the next five years.

Continue with ambitious plans to maximise the return on the council’s investments to support frontline services

  • The council’s housing company This Land; it’s County Farms Estate, the largest in the UK and investments in new energy projects together are due to return a profit of more than £12m in 2019/20.
  • The range of innovative energy schemes include the ground breaking Soham Solar farm which in January surpassed its annual £1m income target two months early.
  • Cambridgeshire County Councils’ plans for commercialisation and investment are set to return to more than £58m to support frontline services over the next five years.

Continue to invest in transforming services to make them deliver more efficiently for local residents – but use a £1.436m surplus built up in the council’s Transformation Fund to balance the 2019/20 budget without the need to make unpalatable cuts to services that local residents need and value. 

  • The council has so far invested £8m from the Fund into initiatives to transform services or manage demand, which has returned £40m to reduce the cost of services.
  • A £1m fund to help parishes and community associations to deliver and improve service has just been extended for a second year   From an initial £564,268 awarded in grants, the return on investment from direct savings or delaying or reducing demand on council services is expected to be £1,165,091

Support areas of increased demand – particularly from vulnerable adults and children, making prudent use of the £9.1m ‘smoothing’ fund in 2019/20 established by the council last year, specifically to manage growing levels of demand for services. 

Accept the Government’s proposal to raise general council tax by 2.99%, announced in last month’s Revenue Support Grant announcement, as well as continuing to apply the 2% increase to directly fund adult social care services.

  • A total 4.99% increase would add £1.20 a week to the bill of a Band D council tax payer, although the majority of Cambridgeshire council tax payers will pay less than this as Band C is the average across the county.

Recognise and thank council staff for their contribution to meeting the costs of rising demand within the current year with three days unpaid leave – but remove a £930k saving requirement from next year’s budget, recognising the need to reward and retain good quality staff. 

“As one of the fastest growing counties in the UK we face a considerable disadvantage which is not fair and not of our own making - as if we were funded even at the rate of the average county council we would receive an additional £19m each year, “ said Cllr Steve Count,, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council. 

“During the past two years I have been taking every opportunity to raise the outdated and broken funding formula with our MPs and at the highest level of Government and I will continue to do so. So far our lobbying has delivered a total of £24.2m of one off funding since November 2018, which Government has given us to tide us over. Whilst I am glad that this cash injection indicates they appear to be listening, a more permanent, flexible and predictable fix supplied by a new needs led formula is needed.

 “I welcome Governments intention to deliver this in the coming financial year and look forward to responding to their proposals which we expect in the spring/summer of 2019.”

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