We desperately need a small group of people with expert knowledge of local government finance to examine the budget reports being considered by Cabinet on Monday 22 February.
The way the Council budget is constructed makes it very difficult to understand. There are plenty of spending reductions, but presented in a very general way, so non-experts cannot work out what it actually means for particular services.
Cuts to Department spending are presented as ‘Savings Options’: £16.276m.
Garden Waste Service
The reports clearly show the saving made by ending the garden waste collection service. But the scheme will only proceed on a paying basis if enough people actually sign up by end of January rather than previously indicating that they will.
Main Budget Elements
Here are some of the main elements in the budget:
- Government cuts to grants to Croydon for 2016-17 are a further 13.2% with the cumulative cut being 56%. By 31 March 2020 the total cut is due to rise to 75.7%.
- ‘The projected revenue outturn for 2015/16 is £0.6m greater than budget. The projected outturn position has improved by £1.617m from the Quarter 2 position reported to Cabinet in December.’
- The Housing Revenue Account is projected to underspend by £2.7m in 2015/16.
- The Council’s overall forecast over spend of £0.602m is made up of Departmental over spends of £10.390m; offset by non-departmental underspends of £9.788m.
- A 1.99% increase in the Council Tax for Croydon Services, a 2% increase in the Council Tax for Adult Social Care. III. The calculation of budget requirement and council, minus a decrease in GLA precept means the Council Tax rise will be 1.89%.
- The Council estimates that the Council Tax base is rising from 113,893 to 117,795 bringing in an extra £4.571m.
There are some cost increases areas in the budget
- Inflation assumptions for Pay – £1.156m
- Contracts – £1.601m
- Pensions – £1.028m
- Concessionary Fares – £0.738m.
- People Department growth: £8.91m.
These extra costs will be partly offset by
- Increased income fees and charges: £0.119m
- Interest Payable – reduction of £0.839m.
Special areas of spending
- Public Health Grant is down by £0.519m to £22.466m.
- Dedicated Schools Grant up to £312.58m from £309.2m of which £123m will be recouped for Academies.
- Rent decrease of 1% as required by the Government
- Garage rents up 2%
- Parking space rents up to £7 per week for tenants and £10 per week for non tenants.
- No change in service charge for caretaking, grounds maintenance and bulk refuse collection
The capital allocation for 2016/17 of £4m and £5m for 2017/18 does not make sense given the figures previously being talked about for the refurbishment programme.
Access to the key documents is via