Budget Consultation 2022/23
We are looking to finalise our plans for the 2022/23 budget, and we need your help by telling us what you think of the proposals.
As a Council we face ongoing central government cuts and uncertainty around future funding for local government, however we have been able to continue to invest in local services and to generate income to reinvest back into local areas and services. Not only have we generated income, but we are committed to being an ambitious and efficient council through generating savings of £2.5 million from additional income and savings since 2014 and further savings of £580,000 by sharing services with South Ribble Borough Council.
The ongoing impact of Covid-19 has been felt this year and everyone's efforts in embracing what we are doing and supporting each other in their local communities has been an important part of us being able to recover from the pandemic better than many other places across the country.
As we recover from the pandemic, we are committed to making sure Chorley is an even better place to live and visit and our budget proposals can be summarised as follows:
- We are proposing to continue to invest in what residents tell us is important to them, that benefit people right across the borough from renovations to our landmark Astley Hall through to supporting our famous Chorley Markets and town centre and major developments that will create jobs and provide better healthcare facilities for residents.
- We are proposing investment of approximately £30m of capital funding to drive forward ambitions for economic growth and business development, to deliver high quality health services and to deliver sustainable public services through transforming the council accommodation and working closely with partners to integrate services.
- To allow us to keep moving Chorley forward we are proposing to increase our portion of the council tax by 8 pence per week (for a band D property) and proposing a below inflation increase in fees and charges, including an increase of £2.50 in the annual garden waste collection cost. The council will continue to support those most vulnerable and in need of additional council tax support through its council tax support scheme.
Funding to Chorley Council has fallen from over £17m in 2016/17 to a forecast figure of £12.6m in 2024/25. During this period, the council continued to experience inflationary increases, creating significant financial challenges. In addition to cuts to funding from central government, other sources of funding for the council are becoming increasingly uncertain due to the following:
- Business rates retention scheme and the fair funding review - due to a government delay in the review of the business rates retention scheme and the fair funding review, the amount of business rates that will remain available to the council after the reset is uncertain therefore making forecasting challenging.
- LCC budget cuts - there is a £47.591m funding gap which is forecast by 2023/24 which will have an impact on the services provided by LCC to our residents.
- COVID-19 Pandemic - there remains a budgetary impact of the pandemic such as reductions in our key funding streams.
We have been working hard to reduce our costs including changing the way that we work and finding new ways to deliver services more efficiently. We have saved over £2.5m in the last three years by transforming services and reviewing contracts to ensure the best possible value for money and we are planning to share more services with South Ribble Borough Council to improve service provision. We have continued to generate income to enable the council to be less reliant on central government funding and have the ability to make investments that are best for the local area.
We have continued to deliver over and above what would usually be expected of a local authority by continuing to invest towards our corporate priorities, with the aim to address the economic impact of the pandemic by supporting businesses to increase jobs and skills, establishing key assets for the future and responding to the needs of communities by enhancing essential services and facilities:
- £1.6m investment to continue the improvements to Astley Hall that offers a high quality, sustainable visitor attraction.
- £400k to fund our large commissions which have delivered crucial third sector support to residents against key priorities during the building back better Covid-19 recovery.
- £100k to support planning applications that has enabled the council to defend locally made decisions.
- £60k to keep supporting vulnerable individuals through funding for the social prescribing team with over £100k of match funding from the NHS.
- £500k to carry out work in the town centre to make it an even better place to live and work.
- £200k set aside to deliver a refreshed package of support and grants that will be created to support local economic recovery.
Future investment will look to drive forward ambitious investment in the local area and local economy, delivery of high-quality health services and develop our leisure centres. Despite the ongoing financial challenges, we have planned ahead and invested in initiatives that will generate an income, because of this we are able to reinvest and put more money into key projects and priorities such as:
- Tatton Gardens Extra Care Scheme - £15m to deliver another extra care scheme for the borough, a new community centre and GP surgery for the area.
- Strawberry Meadows - £9.2m to deliver light industrial units for business use to drive forward local economic growth.
- Whittle Health Hub - £4m of investment to develop a new GP surgery which will be modern and high-quality health facility for Whittle-le-Woods.
- Leisure centres - £2m of investment as a continued commitment to improve our leisure centres.
- Investment in the local economy - a further £200k to a deliver a refreshed and refocussed package of support and grants for businesses and £200k to develop our approach to apprenticeships, graduate and training posts in areas of high market demand so our services can continue to improve.
- Investing in local areas - create £200k of grant funding to make improvements in local parish areas and £2.7m to improve local play and community facilities across the borough and an additional £74k to deliver improvements at Milestone Meadow.
Due to funding uncertainty from Government, ongoing pressure on our budget with increasing costs and a reduction in government funding provided to the council over the last 10 years we are proposing a council tax increase of 1.99%. It is important to note that this is what the government is expecting us to do to make up for reducing the grants we receive from them.
This will allow us to not only maintain services but also to invest in the local area and the local economy. This little bit extra per week will make Chorley a better place to live both now and, in the future, and you will still have one of the lowest council tax bills in Lancashire:
To cover the increasing costs of providing garden waste collections, which covers fuel and the fact we want our waste contractor to pay the teams that have worked so hard during the pandemic a living wage, we feel it is time the cost is increased to reflect this. We are proposing an increase in the charge for garden waste collections up from £30 to £32.50. This is the first increase since the paid-for service was introduced in 2017.
It is important to note that our charge for garden waste remains one of the lowest in Lancashire.
We want to know what you think
The consultation will be open until 4 February 2022 and you view will inform the budget proposals that will be considered at the Full Council meeting on the 24 February 2022. If you want to look at the proposals in more detail, you can view the agenda papers, which were discussed at the Council's Executive Cabinet on 20 January 2022 here.
Please get in touch on 01257 515151 if you require assistance filling the survey in digitally.