Responsible financial approach releases extra funds for key areas
While growing numbers of English councils are needing emergency budget measures to stave off financial crises, Telford & Wrekin Council ended the latest financial year with a balanced budget for the eighth year in a row.
A report to the Council’s cabinet shows that it finished 2018/19 with an underspend of £275,000 - equivalent to 0.23% of its net annual budget of £121 million.
Cabinet financial lead Lee Carter says that this money will be used to help limit impacts of national welfare reforms, which are affecting thousands of households in the borough, and to further boost the Council’s initiatives to tackle homelessness.
The end of year position was in spite of the Council facing continuing cuts in Government grants which with growing demands for services, forced it to make budget savings of £7.6 million last year. These savings now total £117 million over the last nine years.
The Council is also putting in extra funding to support Children’s Safeguarding (an additional £5 million) and Adult Social Care (an extra £800,000) – two key areas where there are significant and growing demand for council services coupled with the continuing need for significant budget savings
The report also shows that the Council-owned private homes for rent business Nuplace’s pre-tax and pre-final audit operating profit rose to almost £500,000 – up by 43% on the previous year, largely due to growth in the number of units Nuplace for rent. This profit is reinvested by Nuplace, while the company also generated last year £1.2 million net income for the Council which is used to help support services such as looked after children and adults.
The financial outturn position also comes after the Council has put extra funding to support a number of other key initiatives such as its Pride in Your High Street campaign to boost key town centres in the borough and a package of measures to promote physical activity in the borough, invest in green spaces and support Armed Forces personnel.
Cllr Carter said: “While many other councils are requiring emergency budget measures to simply make ends meet, our careful responsible financial approach sees us again end the year in budget.
“Despite this, we continue to have the lowest council tax for equivalent services in the region, while we continue to deal with the impact of further cuts.”
“Our careful approach means that we can put this additional £275,000 aside to help tackle two very real problems affecting growing numbers of people in the borough.
“Welfare reforms are having a huge effect on many lives here, while the issue of homelessness is a problem affecting a small but growing number with a much broader effect on a number of communities.
“The Government’s policies do very little to help with either of these issues so we must once again step in to try and help limit the effects that national policies are having on people’s lives in our borough.”