West Devon Borough Council to consider cuts.

As predicted earlier in the year, West Devon Borough Council is looking at a much tighter budget this year thanks to cuts in central government funding.

The Hub Committee at the Council will be considering its budget for next year on 6 February and the papers which have just been released, make for some very sobering reading.

Cllr Philip Sanders, Leader of West Devon Borough Council explains: "We knew this day was coming. Even if we had agreed to create one new Council with South Hams, we knew that the budget for 2018/2019 was going to be tight and we would have to make some cuts.  Quite frankly, it is a miracle that we have not had to make these cuts before now. 

"To date we have managed our budget well by reducing costs, sharing our staff with South Hams District Council to create one work force, our transformation programme T18 has saved us £1.6 million a year, including the introduction of better, smarter ways of working. 

"But we have cut our cloth so thin that there are now very limited opportunities for making further efficiencies. It's time to take a realistic look at the non-statutory services we provide and start cutting those."

Statutory services in West Devon (these are services that the Council has to provide) include, recycling and waste, licencing, planning, environmental health, looking after the homeless, collecting business rates and managing benefits."

Non-statutory Services in West Devon, (these are services which the council currently provides, but is not required to provide by law) include, public toilets, grant funding and maintenance of public open space. 

Cllr Sanders continues: "These changes will be felt the most by our partners and the community groups that we offer grant funding to.  The Council has approved setting up a Community Lottery which will be launched later in the summer and it is hoped that this will help our partners and community groups to access further funding from the Lottery in the future. We can increase the proportion of Council Tax that we collect from our residents, but we are limited to only increasing it by 2.99% (£6.52) on a band D property to £224.91 for 2018-19.  This does not solve our problems. A 1% increase in Council Tax only generates an extra £44,000 in Council Tax income for the Borough Council.

"We will continue to look at ways that we can generate an income for ourselves, so increasing fees and charges is one way.  We are also investing money in commercial property to generate an income.  But these proposals will not be enough in the long term to solve our budget problems where the Council is facing a £0.9m funding gap by 2020/21 and £3.4 million over the next 5 years. "

West Devon Borough Council's Hub Committee will discuss the budget on 6 February, before it is approved by full council on 20 February.

To access the budget papers click here.