All councils are legally required to set a balanced budget every year. A balanced budget means we have enough money to pay for everything we need to pay for.
Like a number of other councils across the country, we're struggling to set a balanced budget for 2024-2025.
Costs are going up because of inflation, and we also have more people who need social care than in previous years. Our reserves (the money we have saved for emergencies) are also critically low, which means we'd struggle to pay any unexpected costs in the future.
All of this means that we need to make around £20m of savings to help us try and set a balanced budget.
We're running a public consultation on a list of potential savings, totalling £14m. These include:
- changing to fortnightly bin collections
- introducing a charge for green waste collections
- the potential closure, or a change of operator, of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
As part of the potential changes to bin collections, households of three or more people would get a larger bin to help with the move to fortnightly collections. We'd also increase the amount of education and support we offer to help people recycle more. People who have communal bins would still get a weekly bin collection.
The proposed charge for green waste collections would be £40 per year. The collections would be every two weeks, starting in early April and continuing until late November.
83% of our budget in 2023-2024 is being spent on providing social care for adults and children. Many of our proposed savings will come from improving the way we provide social care, making it more efficient and saving money.
The budget and medium-term financial plan report explains our financial situation in more detail. You can also find out more in the frequently asked questions below.
The proposed savings are listed in two documents:
- proposals which will have little or no impact on services to the public (which will not be part of the public consultation)
- proposals which will potentially have a direct impact on services to the public (which will be part of the public consultation)
Application for Exceptional Financial Support
We applied for Exceptional Financial Support (EFS) in January to help us cover a gap in our budget in 2024/2025. Our application has been successful.
EFS gives us permission to fund our day-to-day spending in a way we're not usually allowed to do. In technical terms this means we can borrow money to cover the costs of revenue expenditure. Councils are normally only allowed to borrow to fund capital spending, like building or other infrastructure projects.
We would only borrow what is absolutely necessary to make sure our budget is balanced in 2024/2025. We'd then have to repay that amount over a period of 20 years.
Councillors will vote on whether to accept the terms of the Exceptional Financial Support at the council meeting on Friday 8 March. They will also make a decision on the budget at that meeting.
The public consultation on our proposed savings closed on 18 January 2024.
Full council will make a decision on the budget at the council meeting on Friday 8 March 2024. You can watch the meeting live on our Facebook page. Documents for the meeting are available on ModernGov.