Have your say about our proposals to address our £37.6 million budget shortfall
We need your views and ideas as we make important decisions about the future of local services in Plymouth.
We are facing serious and unprecedented shortfalls in the resources we need to continue providing local services, due to national factors that are largely beyond our control, including rapidly rising inflation and energy costs and increasing demand for services.
These costs include a £5.7 million rise in gas and electricity costs and a £9 million increase in costs due to a rising demand for children’s and adult’s social care and homelessness services.
At the same time, our income has been decreasing due to the impact of the pandemic.
Similar pressures are being faced by councils across the country and are causing very serious budget problems for both this year and next.
In July we projected that these additional costs would cause a large overspend on this year’s budget. We immediately looked at urgent actions to address the problem as we have a legal duty to deliver a balanced budget at the end of the year.
We have so far managed to reduce a projected £15 million overspend this year to £7 million. We are continuing to look at all our spending and identify ways of further reducing costs or raising income to avoid an overspend this year.
The same pressures are leading to a projected £37.6 million gap in the resources we need to deliver more than 300 local services next year.
The scale of this shortfall is unprecedented. To put it into context, our total revenue budget for this year is just over £197 million.
Why this problem is serious
The Council has a very wide range of responsibilities for delivering services in the city, supporting Plymouth’s residents and championing the city’s interests.
Our revenue budget enables us to deliver more than 300 services – as diverse as bin collections, protecting vulnerable children, providing libraries, making planning decisions, attracting investment and jobs in the city, providing leisure facilities, providing parking, maintaining roads and pavements and looking after Plymouth’s parks and green spaces.
We have a legal duty to provide some of these services, while others are discretionary. For example, social care services are among the statutory services that we are required to deliver. Providing care for the elderly and vulnerable adults and children accounts for around 70 per cent of our total revenue budget.
To find out more about council budgets visit our budget explainer page.
This graphic shows how our revenue budget was allocated for this financial year and illustrates the cost of providing social care services.
How we are proposing to tackle the gap in our budget
We aim to continuously improve the efficiency of everything we do through our ongoing modernisation programme. However, the scale of the financial pressures we have been facing following the pandemic and the recent rise in inflation require urgent additional measures.
We have carried out a full review of all the known pressures and have worked hard to create a robust recovery plan based on these themes:
- Modernising and investing
- Generating income
- Being efficient and effective in everything we do
- Making difficult decisions to change, pause or stop things we are doing
We are looking at all areas of the Council's work to see how we can reduce costs and increased income. Wherever possible we are trying to squeeze out even more efficiency in what we do. However, we have to make difficult decisions to reduce costs as we have a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget for next year.
With the cost of living crisis we know families in Plymouth are dealing with rising bills in the same way we are and the last thing we want to do is add to that burden, so we don’t propose increasing our fees and charges lightly. However, with some of our costs rising by up to 20 per cent we have no choice but to increase fees and charges to cover increases in our bills.
We also remain committed to delivering our priorities for Plymouth and addressing the key challenges facing the city. We will ensure we continue to support driving higher value jobs in the city, good quality green homes, ensuring decent education and first class health and care.
We want your views on our proposals
So far, we have identified proposals that could save £26.2 million towards the £37.6 million.
We are currently considering the proposals listed below to close the gap in our budget for next year.
Even if all these proposals are agreed, we will still be left with an £11.4 million gap in our budget for next year, so we would also like to hear your ideas for how we might make further savings or generate income that would support local services.
You can give your views by clicking on the link at the bottom on this page.
Children's Services directorate savings proposals
- Work with families to keep more children at home: £1.627m
- Reduce the use of residential care, increase the use of foster care and work to ensure children in care can return to their families or a connected person in their lives £2.275m
- Review our workforce / organisational structure. Realigning services in Targeted Support and Social Care will reduce the need for agency workers and costs associated with external assessments: £0.673m
People directorate savings proposals
- Manage and reduce demand on housing and adult social care: £2.93m
- Review Reablement service: £250k
- Review early help provision and children’s centres in partnership with Children’s Directorate and partners across the city: £600k
- Review youth services working in partnership with local providers to reduce costs: £43k
- Review sports development service and align function to Plymouth Active Leisure: £100k
- Transfer funding for health and wellbeing hubs to Public Health: £119k
- Maximise grants to support wellbeing services: £508k
- Review contracts to deliver efficiencies: £205k
- Maximise Disabled Facilities Grant: £500k
- Develop a new operating model across the directorate: £200k
- Use reserve to support range of children’s services: £250k
- Reduce Council subsidy associated with leisure facilities: Tinside Lido: Broaden offer including new events: Plympton Pool: Review operating costs and income; Mount Wise Pools: Implement entry charge to contribute to costs of running; Brickfields: Develop community sports and wellbeing hub with partners: £250k
Customer and Corporate Services / Chief Executive directorate savings proposals
- Review Contact Centres/Customer Services operating within the Council to look at broader efficiencies, bringing services together and focusing on those who are not able to use digital services and the most vulnerable communities we serve: £188k
- Reduce purchasing of library books as ebook loans are increasing: £50k
- Swap revenue budget funding for Community Grants programme with capital funding which is available: £213k
- Share policy and performance functions across the Council: £84k
- Bring together marketing, design and communications functions across the Council: £80k
- Reduce external legal advice: £20k
- Review Lord Mayor’s events and streamline resources: £30k
- Review senior management resource across the Council: £200k
- One-off proposal to freeze the Head of Policy and Regional Partnerships role for 2023/24: £70k
- Improve processes and implement automation technology to reduce manual work in Business Support: £200k
- Consult residents on how the Council reprovides its Library Service alongside a review of other community buildings and services: Subject to consultation – likely to be 24/25 saving
- Introduce a plan to save money on IT as part of review of how services are best delivered across the Council: £600k
- Freeze vacancies from transformation and digital teams and identify funding sources: £300k
- Reduce spending on agency staff used in managing Council buildings: £60k
- Adjust security provision in Council buildings: £123k
- Reduce posts within the Human Resources Organisational Development (HROD) service: £220k
- Review learning and development spend across the Council: £25k
- Review of audit requirements from the Devon Audit Partnership: £50k
- Review budget for the Finance team: £250k
- Reduce external financial advice: £50k
- Vacate Windsor House earlier than planned: £500k
- Accelerate transfer of Children, Young People and Families service from Midland House and sell the building: £230k
Place directorate savings proposals
- Reduce concessionary fares budget - release underspends in this budget assessed against historic trends: £500k
- Consider and consult upon the implementation of charges at Park and Ride sites to support the non-commercial bus routes and contribute to savings already identified in the separate Cabinet report agreed on 10 November 2022: £229k
- Generate savings and income from the commercial estate (lease renewals, re-gearing and new income): £343k
- Capitalisation of Strategic Project Team costs: £50k
- Review costs of the economic development team through capitalisation of costs, efficiencies, income and sponsorship targets: £77k
- Secure new and additional income and grants from cultural trusts and foundations: £125k
- Ensure Tourist Information Centre is cost neutral: £25k
- Seek sponsor for Bonfire Night on The Hoe or stop the event: £30k
- Review of community transport provision including release of bike hire underspend, consideration of funding underspends, the optimisation of services and identifying alternative funding models: £70k
- Withdraw from Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership: £10k
- Withdraw from South Hams/Plymouth Urban Fringe Team: £66k
- Reduce/re-align financial contributions to environment/marine bodies: £10k
- Increase allotment fees: £11k
- Undertake a full-service re-structure of Strategic Planning and Infrastructure: £300k
- Annual increase in parking fees and identify new forms of income (subject to consultation as required), in addition to those savings already identified in the separate Cabinet report agreed on 10 November 2022: £423k
- Highways engineering client fees through capitalisation of back-office support: £128k
- Re-profile highways maintenance in areas such as white-lining, gulley work, barriers and ironworks as well as rationalise staffing and seek capitalisation of back-office costs: £500k
- Make route optimisation savings in refuse collection service: £290k
- Increase fees and charges in Street Services in line with fees and charges policy – areas include commercial, trade and bulky waste, MOTs, marine, playing pitches and beach huts: £234k
- Strategic contract optimisation: £430k
- Introduce new Chelson Meadow solar farm to generate savings (post feasibility works): £50k
- In line with national government policy, create a habitat banking scheme to generate income from developments to improve biodiversity and offset environmental impact: £29k
- Maximise nature-based solutions to create additional income: £20k
- One off saving – reduce foreshore reserve: £129k
- One off saving – reduce Park and Ride reserve: £100k
- One off saving – reduce bad debt provision: £343k
- One off saving – Strategic Project Team licence fee: £48k
- Utilise funding allocated for food waste collection service pending Government guidance on next steps for introduction: £200k
- Recovery of owed land receipts: £50k
We’ll be reviewing all feedback before we consider the draft budget for next year.
You can find regular updates on our progress in addressing the budget gap on our news pages.