East Riding of Yorkshire Council has set a budget for 2014/15 that results in another freeze on its council tax bills. These have not increased since 2010/11.The council’s budget does not involve any major reductions to services, nor closures of any public facilities run by the council, and it maintains annual spending of £23 million with the voluntary and community sector.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of the council, said: “The council has not been treated any differently to others as far as the national funding cuts are concerned. We have needed to make large savings over the last few years and more will be required for the foreseeable future.
“The challenge is actually greater for the East Riding which starts from a low funding base with national grant well below the average for similar councils.
“However, by adopting a planned approach and focusing on priorities, we continue to provide good services and remain responsive, meeting new demands and managing budget reductions in a measured way that avoids the knee-jerk response to funding cuts common in many other areas.
“I am also pleased that our budget sets aside an additional £2.25 million to invest in highway repairs and flood alleviation measures following the tidal surge in December 2013 and previous floods in the East Riding. Residents again highlighted these issues as priorities at the budget consultation events.”
The squeeze on public expenditure is set to continue until 2018/19, which the council estimates will mean further national funding cuts of £41 million over the next four years. As well as the reduction in national funding, the council needs to plan for increasing costs and unavoidable pressures (eg an increasing number of older people requiring social care services). These additional pressures mean that, over the same four year period, the council needs to make savings of £70.7 million. The budget for 2014/15 identifies savings of £23.7 million. While savings of a similar scale have been made over the last four years from 2010/11, the challenges remain with much still to be achieved.
A very positive feature of the budget is the continued investment each year in the council’s capital programme which is separately funded. Some £117 million will be invested in 2014/15 and a total of £225million over the four year period 2014/15 to 2017/18.
Councillor Parnaby said: “The work will result in major improvements to essential infrastructure such as housing, schools, community facilities and local transport.
“Building to improve the East Riding also gives a much needed boost to the local economy, helping to support local contractors and maintain jobs.”
Among the major projects in progress are the new Bridlington Leisure World, refurbishment of Haltemprice Leisure Centre including development of a community hub to bring in other key services, and the Beverley southern relief road.
Details of the separate 2014/15 precepts for the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Humberside Fire and Rescue service, together with those for town and parish councils, are announced separately and not decided by the council. It is hoped that the final council tax resolution will be approved at a council meeting on 19 February when these precepts are known.
East Riding of Yorkshire Councils council tax charges for 2014/15 are: Band A - £808.13, Band B - £942.82, Band C - £1077.51, Band D - £1212.20, Band E - £1481.58, Band F - £1750.56, Band G - £2020.33, Band H - £2424.40.
Police precept: See page 5