To achieve our ambitions we need to transform Cumbria County Council and ensure that we focus on the right things.
By law we must set a balanced budget every year and ensure we have enough money to deliver services to the people of Cumbria. This can only be achieved by the council being financially sustainable, which is increasingly challenging in the current funding climate.
Since austerity began in 2011/12 the council has made savings of £249m.
The core grant received from government to support council services has significantly reduced.IIn 2011/12 it was £159m. By 2019/20 this is expected to have reduced to £18m. This will cease altogether in 2020/21.
We need to find an extra £49m of savings by 2021/22. This means the council will have made £298m of savings from its day-to-day (revenue) budget since 2011/12.
Cumbria County Council must find budget savings of £23 million in 2019/20.
This graph shows savings Cumbria County Council has had to make since 2011/12.
To date, the council has delivered significant savings with limited impact on frontline services – through staff reductions, being more efficient, implementing new contracts for services, astute financial management and seeking new commercial opportunities. These are all examples of the new ways of working we described in the Council Plan (2018–2022). We will continue to put the people of Cumbria first, but the ongoing pressure created by reductions in funding, increased demand and rising costs means this approach is no longer enough.
This will mean difficult choices about service delivery and what we can afford within the available resources. Making these choices will be our hardest challenge yet. We need an open conversation with the people of Cumbria about how to approach this challenge.
We find ourselves in a situation where we must look at which essential services we can afford to provide and which services could be provided by communities in the future.
We hope that by working together we can secure a different type of future for these non-essential services. If an alternative future cannot be secured then many of these services may need to stop.