Reports have been published setting out proposals for how Burnley Council will meet its financial challenges over the coming years, whilst continuing to deliver high-quality services.
The papers also look ahead over the years to 2024, showing how Burnley Council continues to face shrinking budgets, and setting out a broad approach to balancing the books.
A range of detailed savings are being made across all the service units in the council. Most of these have been programmed in for some time, and result from ongoing changes to the way that services are delivered.
The reports also set out details of the financial implications of the council’s recent decisions to invest in the future of the borough through major schemes such as the creation of student accommodation in Sandygate and the Pioneer Place cinema and leisure complex, as well as other major projects.
The national government has determined how far district councils such as Burnley can increase the level of council tax. The proposed budget would see Burnley Council working to the limit set nationally, which would mean an increase in household council tax bills of 2.99 per cent.
This approach is in line with that being taken by many other councils and means that Burnley’s share of the council tax bill for a Band D property would be £300.22 for the year – an increase of £8.72 from the current level of £291.50.
The full council tax bill for a household is made up of the Burnley Council element, and also of payments to Lancashire County Council, the police, fire authority and – in areas with a town or parish council – a ‘precept’ to cover their running costs.
Council leader Mark Townsend said: “We’re still firmly in the era of austerity and once again the annual budget setting process is very challenging. A national report just out highlighted just how unfairly Burnley has been treated by central Government when it comes to financial support and we’ve borne the brunt of spending cuts far more than other areas.
“We’ve seen a 22.6 per cent reduction in Government funding in the past 10 years – the third highest cut in the north west. That’s equivalent to £374 for every person in the borough. Can you imagine having to cope with losing almost a quarter of your household budget?
“Sadly the future looks just as bleak. We have to save £4.5 million over the next five years – that's 28 per cent of our £15.815 million net revenue budget for 2019/20.
Councillor Sue Graham, the executive member for resources and performance management, said: “The council tax increase for Band A properties which are the majority of households in the borough, will be 10p per week. Whilst increasing council tax is not something we would wish to do, it is unavoidable if we are to maintain sustainable services.
“Increasing council tax by 2.99% provides additional income of £224,000.To balance the budget we have also had to make savings of £1.034 million. These are difficult decisions and brings the total savings the council has had to make since 2010 to £16.049 million, including those for 2019/20.
“While we’re facing unprecedented financial cuts the council is determined to forge ahead with ambitious plans that will fuel the economic growth of our borough and attract essential inward investment. We’re investing in our future because we can‘t stand still. We must have a strong local economy which attracts in new companies, new shops, new investors and new residents to inject new life into our communities. We won’t allow the severe financial pressures we’re under to stop our drive forwards for a better borough for all.
“The proposals set out mean that Burnley Council will have a balanced budget, and that our core services will continue to be run efficiently.”
The reports will go to the council’s executive on February 11th for debate and then on to a meeting of the full council on 20th February for approval and to set the budget for 2019/20.