February 27, 2012 in News
This Tory Led government’s reduction to the funding for local authorities are amongst the most severe cuts we have faced in living memory. This year alone, the cut to our grant settlement has forced us to reduce our budget by £1 million.
This means we can no longer just manage our budgets better; we have to manage our business differently.
We are already well underway with our review of the council’s systems to learn ways to strip away bureaucracy and improve our customers’ experience. This year, the restructuring of the Council will see a reduction in senior management saving the Council £500,000 per year. Further savings will come in the form of efficiencies which will not impact on the delivery of front line services.
The restructuring of the Council is a reflection of our belief that the process by which you achieve something is as important as what is achieved. The culture and values of the organisation are important so that staff and members are working as one organisation. We have started work on developing priorities and purposes for the council and also some clear performance indicators, so we can demonstrate what we have achieved.
Delivery of affordable housing remains our key priority and we strive to make 35% of all new housing affordable; we will seek every opportunity to secure funding to take our programme forward. This year we are on target to deliver nearly 150 new, affordable homes in Exeter. You will be aware that the government is moving to a model of self-financing local authority housing. The action we are taking will ensure that funding is available to continue to improve our housing stock and to provide the means to build additional accommodation.
I am pleased to say that because of the success of this authority in building new homes and purpose built student accommodation; we have received extra funding through the New Homes Bonus programme. We are committed to working with and supporting Exeter’s communities and this extra funding will enable us to fund community facilities and to address some of the aspirations of our community groups. It is only right that the benefits of new developments are directed towards our communities.
We are in difficult economic times. Businesses are finding it tough and we are mindful of the work that needs to be done to keep the economy of the City growing. The arrival of John Lewis shows businesses know that our city is a good investment. It is vital that the City Council supports businesses while being careful with its spending. The improvements being made to the King William Street Car Park are a case in point. It will ensure that visitors to the City centre have an excellent experience and at the same time raise income for this authority.
The environmental enhancements we are making in London Inn Square are to ensure that pedestrians have a friendly and safe environment and ensure the benefits from visitors to John Lewis flow both to Sidwell Street and the wider City centre. I am sure the whole of the City centre will receive a significant boost in the last quarter of this year from this investment. This commitment is not limited to the city centre. We are conscious of the need to support our district centres around the city and this summer we will carry out enhancements to the Cowick Street area.
This budget aims to deliver the necessary savings and to protect the services which the citizens of Exeter need most while freezing the level of council tax next year.
Under Labour, Exeter City Council tax rates have been consistently one of the lowest in the country. That just 8p out of every £1 of resident’s council tax bills go to Exeter City Council is a testament to the well run nature of a Council that has been under Labour control for the majority of the last 30 years.
This Labour run administration is committed to getting the best value for taxpayer’s money which is why, unlike our neighbouring West Devon and South Hams District Councils, we have decided to freeze council tax.