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Budget savings proposals to be considered

Barnet Council will present its Medium Term Financial Strategy that sets out how the Council proposes to deliver its ambitions and priorities, whilst closing a £70million budget gap over the next five years.

The proposals are being put forward to Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday, 11 December.

Barnet Council has already successfully saved £155million since 2010. Further financial challenges however continue to be faced by local authorities across the country.  Barnet Council is facing a budget gap of £70million between now and 2024, with nearly £23million of running cost savings needing to be made in 2019/20.

The council therefore needs to make some tough decisions about priorities and how limited funds are spent. This may mean that the council stops doing some things or does them in a more efficient way, as well as looking at how it can find opportunities to generate more income.

The council’s approach protects its investment in Children’s Services to ensure services for children and young people reach the standard they deserve. The council is also working through embedding new refuse rounds, so that weekly bin collections can be retained.  In addition, the investment in roads and pavements will also continue, as we know how important these services are to residents.

Barnet is committed to investing in facilities that helps the borough to grow and thrive, including two brand new leisure centres, community facilities and enhancements to schools. Income generation will play an increasingly important role in the way finances are managed.

The council will look to maximise opportunities from our assets such as generating income through advertising in the public realm and rental income from our estate.

The construction of new homes will provide increased income through Council Tax, which will help fund local services. The council’s Delivering for Barnet programme will also deliver an increase in business rates.

The restructuring of the council’s senior management team will deliver an £850,000 saving. The number of agency staff has also been reduced from 360 to 250.

The Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “The proposals we are putting forward to committee members next Tuesday for consideration will ensure that we do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable residents and deliver on our priorities, while living within our means, with less reliance on council reserves.

“We are facing a tough financial period over the coming years. The truth of the matter is that we will have less money to spend against the backdrop of an increase in demand on services, as well as a growing and ageing population.

“This means that being financially sustainable must be at the very heart of the council’s approach over the next five years. While there will be some difficult decisions to make, it’s important that we have a plan.

“We will continue to make sure that our contracts are delivering value for money and are as efficient as possible. That includes holding our partners to account if things go wrong. For example, the recent £4.12million settlement received from Capita to settle historical performance issues and to simplify procurement by ending gainshare.”

“Saving proposals for 2019/20 have been developed to the value of nearly £23million and we will be asking residents’ views on these and a proposed 2.99% increase in Council Tax to help fund local services. This is the maximum we are able increase this by, and also the minimum increase we need to balance the books.”

Subject to approval by Policy and Resources Committee next Tuesday, the council will start a public consultation. This will be then presented to Policy and Resources Committee on Wednesday, 20 February, before final decision by Full Council on Tuesday, 5 March.

The committee papers can be viewed online

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