Plymouth residents are being asked to give their views and ideas as the City Council considers proposals for closing an unprecedented £37.6m shortfall in its budget for local services next year.
A report to Cabinet this week highlighted how inflation, rising energy costs and rising demand for social care services are causing huge budget pressures for all local authorities and outlined a package of proposals to help close Plymouth’s gap.
Due to the urgency of the pressures the Cabinet agreed a number of proposals to reduce costs:
- Introduce charging for collecting garden waste (as Plymouth is one of the few authorities remaining not to already charge for this non-statutory service)
- Reduce subsidies for some non-commercial bus routes
- Implement a range of changes to parking arrangements that were recently consulted on
- Increase fees and charges by 10 per cent this year.
The Council is asking for views on around 80 further proposals that it is considering. These include:
- Reducing costs in children’s social care, including working with families to keep more children at home, reducing the use of residential care and reviewing organisational structures
- Managing and reducing demand on adult social care
- Reviewing early help provision and children’s centres, alongside partners
- Reducing subsidies for bus services that cannot be run commercially
- Reviewing senior management
- Vacating buildings earlier than planned
- Increasing fees and charges by 10 per cent in 2023/4
Even if all the proposed savings are approved, the Council will still have another £11 of savings to identify before it can fulfil its statutory duty to set a balanced budget for 2023/24 in February.
The Council wants to hear feedback about the proposals, as well as further ideas and suggestions for how it can reduce costs and raise income, before it considers a draft budget in December.
Views can now be given through a questionnaire on the Council’s website.
Council Leader Richard Bingley said: “Like councils up and down the country we are in a very serious financial situation due to unprecedented external pressures that are not within our control.
“We have to be realistic about the prospect of large-scale national support and with a budget shortfall on this scale we have to make some tough and painful decisions to reduce costs.
“Throughout this process we aim to safeguard the services that matter most to people and those that support the most vulnerable, which is why it is important that we hear the views of Plymouth residents.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to identify savings and our first tranche of proposals would go a long way to helping us close the gap. However, we would still be left with £11 million further savings to find before February, so we also welcome ideas for further ways of reducing costs.
“I would urge everyone to take the time to look at the proposals and give their views and ideas before we have to make our final decisions in order to set a balanced budget.”