A chance for all Cambridgeshire residents to give their views on the future direction of council spending, goes live on the council’s website from today (Nov 7th)
Overall, the County Council is predicting the need to find additional income and savings of more than £28m to balance next year’s budget
An independently conducted doorstep survey of 1,100 residents across Cambridgeshire began last week, and the same questions are posted on the council’s website from today to give everyone a chance to take part if they would like to.
Since the Council set this year’s budget in February, the national and international economic situation has significantly changed, and this has had a negative impact on Council finances in the same way it has affected most residents. The issues that we’re having to deal with include:
• Rises in inflation to levels not seen for forty years, increasing the costs of our workforce and the supplies and services we buy.
• a crisis in the supply of energy and goods.
• The impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives or incomes, causing major increases in the numbers needing extra help for the first time – for instance a 24% rise in children eligible for free school meals in the county over the past 16 months.
“We need to produce a budget which is sustainable so that we can deliver on our ambition to create a greener, fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire,” said Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
“We also want to continue to make changes to the way we work – improving the environment, bringing services closer to people, and helping residents and communities to recover from the effects of COVID-19. But we can only consider investments if we can first balance our budget.
“Like you, the Council needs to use a range of approaches to balance the books, which includes changing, transforming or – as a last approach – reducing some of the things we do.” she added.
“Delivering a balanced budget in the current economic context will not be easy,” agreed Cllr Elisa Meschini, Deputy Leader of the Council. It is a challenge which is not just facing household budgets, but also councils up and down the country. We are already calling on the chancellor to recognise this when he sets his Autumn budget next week, otherwise it will only further impact the most vulnerable people in Cambridgeshire.
“I would invite everyone to take part in the survey whether online or if a researcher calls on them - so we can consider a range of views as we set the budget.”
This online survey will close on Sunday, December 11th after which its results will be available for Members to consider in their January meetings, alongside the statistically representative doorstep survey.