New bud­get is most chal­leng­ing

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - TOWN HALL VIEW - John Holdich

One of the ques­tions I of­ten get asked is whether the cuts to our gov­ern­ment fund­ing have im­pacted our abil­ity to pro­vide ser­vices as se­verely as some other coun­cils are re­port­ing.

I think that might be be­cause in Peter­bor­ough we’ve min­imised re­duc­tions in ser­vices and in­creases in coun­cil tax for res­i­dents while still in­vest­ing in the city and con­sis­tently bal­anc­ing our bud­get.

The truth is that it dif­fers for ev­ery coun­cil, with some ar­eas af­fected worse than oth­ers.

I would ar­gue that in Peter­bor­ough we are one of the worst af­fected ar­eas, with our fund­ing from gov­ern­ment fail­ing to take into ac­count un­prece­dented in­creases in de­mand or pop­u­la­tion growth - our fund­ing is sim­ply cut year after year.

Be­tween 2013/14 and 2019/20 our Rev­enue Sup­port Grant - the main gov­ern­ment grant we re­ceive to sup­port a range of ser­vices de­liv­ered by the coun­cil - will have been re­duced by 80 per cent (see- graph).

What would you do if the wages com­ing into your house­hold re­duced by 80 per cent? You could cut out the lux­ury items, meals out and new clothes, but how would you still pay for all those es- sen­tial items such as heat­ing, wa­ter and food? The city coun­cil re­ceived £55mil­lion in Rev­enue Sup­port Grant in 2013/14 and this will have re­duced to just £10mil­lion by 2019/20. When you con­sider that it costs the coun­cil £46mil­lion ev­ery year to pro­vide Adult So­cial Care ser­vices, it’s easy to see the size of the chal­lenge.

To give you an ex­am­ple of the in­creases in de­mand, we’ve seen a 200 per cent rise in the num­ber of home­less fam­i­lies re­quir­ing tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion in just the past two years. How­ever, even dur­ing the most chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances the coun­cil has ever faced we have re­mained com­mit­ted to our pri­or­i­ties and Peter­bor­ough has made huge strides for­ward.

We’ve in­vested sig­nif­i­cantly in cre­at­ing new school places in im­proved build­ings over the past five years, we’re lead­ing the com­pre­hen­sive Flet­ton Quays rede­vel­op­ment, and we’ve com­pleted a num­ber of ma­jor high­way projects to sup­port the city’s growth - I could go on. We will con­tinue to in­vest in the city and de­liver a range of ser­vices. We’ll do this by de­vel­op­ing new ways of gen­er­at­ing in­come, look for ex­ter­nal fund­ing, de­liver ser­vices more in­no­va­tively, and con­tinue to pro­mote the city to busi­nesses.

But, we have to be hon­est - we are cur­rently no longer suf­fi­ciently funded by gov­ern­ment to pro­vide the ser­vices we want to de­liver for res­i­dents and the 2018/19 bud­get will be the most chal­leng­ing yet.

Put sim­ply, I be­lieve Peter­bor­ough does not re­ceive a fair fund­ing deal from gov­ern­ment and our res­i­dents are be­ing short-changed. How is it fair for Lon­don coun­cils, based on cur­rent fig­ures, to re­ceive fund­ing of £563 per per­son when here in Peter­bor­ough we re­ceive £392 for ev­ery res­i­dent?

There­fore, I will be fight­ing for our res­i­dents and cam­paign­ing to gov­ern­ment for fairer fund­ing for this city. I would welcome the sup­port of all coun­cil­lors as well as busi­nesses and res­i­dents from across Peter­bor­ough. Our first set of pro­pos­als to set a bal­anced bud­get for next year will be re­leased in just un­der a month, and I’ll be writ­ing more about this cam­paign in the com­ing weeks.

Peter­bor­ough mat­ters, and we need to fight for a fairer fund­ing deal from gov­ern­ment to en­sure that our res­i­dents re­ceive the ser­vices and sup­port they de­serve.

Thou­sands of run­ners took to our streets last week­end for the Perkins Great East­ern Run. As well as be­ing a record break­ing year for en­tries, we also had a lot of new run­ners too. The race was won by exArmy ser­vice­man Tom Evans with a fan­tas­tic time of 68 min­utes 40 sec­onds. Sec­ond place went to Wil­liam Strange­way from Lin­coln Welling­ton AC and third place was won by exRAF ser­vice­man Ben Livesey.

Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil leader gives his view on the coun­cil and news and is­sues af­fect­ing you...

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