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Council response to Local Government funding settlement

We have only just received details of the funding which has been allocated to the Council.  

This is always a very complex issue and this year has become even more so because of the Government’s decision to introduce the new business rates retention system, which allows local authorities to keep what they collect, and the localisation of council tax benefit allocation.  We need now to carry out a detailed analysis of the figures to assess what they mean for the Council.

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The Council has, however, already delivered or is delivering on a number of Eric Pickles’ 50 ways to save.  These include :

Share back office services – Cornwall merged seven Councils into one as part of the creation of the new unitary Council in 2009.  This has delivered £15m of ongoing annual savings which were mainly generated from rationalising back office functions.

Tackle duplicate payments – Cornwall implemented this initiative during the last financial year and has recovered £0.528m to date.

Tackle fraud – The Council has successfully tackled Council tax and housing benefit fraud and is anticipating detecting/preventing £1.5m this year.

Clamp down on corporate charge cards – The Council introduced new internal controls last year, with cash withdrawal facilities removed several years ago.

Procurement savings – The Council actively manages its procurement process, delivering annual cashable savings in the regions of £3.5m plus cost avoidance of another £3m per year.

Council tax collection rates – Cornwall Council collects 97.7% of its Council tax in year, in excess of 99% in total.

Hot desking, estate rationalisation and sub-letting – The Council is well on the way to delivering savings in excess of £1m per year through an ambitious scheme of office modernisation and modern working.

Closed subsidised council canteens – Cornwall has already done this and is delivering savings of £0.045m p.a.

Open a coffee shop in the library – Cornwall has already done this in its largest library in Truro.

Scrap the Town hall Pravda – Cornwall stopped the publication of its newspaper several years ago.

Stop providing free food and drink in meetings – the Council implemented this several years ago.

Reduce first class travel – Cornwall Council already has a policy of no 1st class travel

Cut mileage payments – Cornwall Council reduced its mileage payments to staff in 2011 and pays on average well below the HMRC 45p rate.

Sell services – the Council has recently set up a range of alternative service delivery vehicles which have the power to trade and sell services.

The Government also announced today that the Council has been allocated an additional £4.874m over the next two years for maintaining roads in Cornwall.  This funding, which includes £3.191m for 2013 / 2014 and £1.683m for 2014 /2015, can be used for improvements such as road resurfacing, drainage improvement, maintenance to bridges or repairing damage to highway infrastructure caused by severe weather events, such as the recent flooding.

With the latest reports suggesting that last month’s floods caused more than £2m of damage to roads and bridges in Cornwall, and more severe weather predicted in the next few days, Bert Biscoe, the Council’s portfolio holder for transportation has welcomed this additional funding as “salvation- hopefully”. 

The Council is currently drawing up proposals for the 2013 / 2014 budget which will be considered by the Cabinet in January before a final decision is made by the full Council in February.

Story posted 19 December 2012

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