Council sets prudent budget for 2021/22 in uncertain times
Uncertainties about the future of funding and the impact of COVID-19 mean Cherwell District Council has set a budget that for the first time in many years includes significant savings. All district councillors met at the annual budget setting meeting of the council on February 22 to debate and vote on the budget for 2021/22. Detail of the budget can be found here.
There are a combination of factors coming together in 2021/22 that have led to challenging savings. A total of £4.3m of savings have been agreed for 2021/22.
Councillor Tony Ilott, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Financial Management and Governance, said: “Since 2010 we have been able to avoid making the savings experienced elsewhere in local government. We have been successful in local economic growth and innovation, which has resulted in local jobs as well as income for the council.
“However, alongside all local authorities, we now face a very uncertain funding situation. The government announced a one-year spending review and financial settlement so we do not have medium term certainty around our funding. There has also been delays to a realignment of the distribution of business rates, which is likely to result in less funding for the council in the future. A review around the future of New Homes Bonus which is a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect housing growth in their areas leads to further uncertainty from 2022/23.
“Alongside these uncertainties, an ageing population, growth in population and our response to COVID-19 have added to the financial pressures, but this prudent budget ensures our financial sustainability and leaves us well-placed to face the future with confidence.”
Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, added: “With continued budget pressures, we are having to find ways to save money while protecting as many frontline services as much as possible. That is why we have moved services online, where appropriate, and why we are trying to generate more income. However, this year, regrettably, this will not be enough and the savings we have agreed reflect that.
“Being responsible now and having careful and measured forward planning means we can be a resilient and sustainable council in the future. We have agreed savings of £4.4 million and will continue to apply our thoughts to future years at the council while awaiting important information from central government about how local government funding will be structured in future years.
“Undoubtedly our flourishing partnership with Oxfordshire County Council has and will continue to help us lessen the impact of this budgetary situation and we are committed to working with the community and voluntary sector in ways that will also mitigate any issues.”