New budget is most challenging - Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich

Cllr John Holdich
Cllr John Holdich
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One of the questions I often get asked is whether the cuts to our government funding have impacted our ability to provide services as severely as some other councils are reporting.

I think that might be because in Peterborough we’ve minimised reductions in services and increases in council tax for residents while still investing in the city and consistently balancing our budget.

The truth is that it differs for every council, with some areas affected worse than others.

I would argue that in Peterborough we are one of the worst affected areas, with our funding from government failing to take into account unprecedented increases in demand or population growth - our funding is simply cut year after year.

Between 2013/14 and 2019/20 our Revenue Support Grant - the main government grant we receive to support a range of services delivered by the council - will have been reduced by 80 per cent (seegraph).

What would you do if the wages coming into your household reduced by 80 per cent? You could cut out the luxury items, meals out and new clothes, but how would you still pay for all those essential items such as heating, water and food? The city council received £55million in Revenue Support Grant in 2013/14 and this will have reduced to just £10million by 2019/20. When you consider that it costs the council £46million every year to provide Adult Social Care services, it’s easy to see the size of the challenge.

To give you an example of the increases in demand, we’ve seen a 200 per cent rise in the number of homeless families requiring temporary accommodation in just the past two years. However, even during the most challenging circumstances the council has ever faced we have remained committed to our priorities and Peterborough has made huge strides forward.

We’ve invested significantly in creating new school places in improved buildings over the past five years, we’re leading the comprehensive Fletton Quays redevelopment, and we’ve completed a number of major highway projects to support the city’s growth - I could go on. We will continue to invest in the city and deliver a range of services. We’ll do this by developing new ways of generating income, look for external funding, deliver services more innovatively, and continue to promote the city to businesses.

But, we have to be honest - we are currently no longer sufficiently funded by government to provide the services we want to deliver for residents and the 2018/19 budget will be the most challenging yet.

Put simply, I believe Peterborough does not receive a fair funding deal from government and our residents are being short-changed. How is it fair for London councils, based on current figures, to receive funding of £563 per person when here in Peterborough we receive £392 for every resident?

Therefore, I will be fighting for our residents and campaigning to government for fairer funding for this city. I would welcome the support of all councillors as well as businesses and residents from across Peterborough. Our first set of proposals to set a balanced budget for next year will be released in just under a month, and I’ll be writing more about this campaign in the coming weeks.

Peterborough matters, and we need to fight for a fairer funding deal from government to ensure that our residents receive the services and support they deserve.

Thousands of runners took to our streets last weekend for the Perkins Great Eastern Run. As well as being a record breaking year for entries, we also had a lot of new runners too. The race was won by ex-Army serviceman Tom Evans with a fantastic time of 68 minutes 40 seconds. Second place went to William Strangeway from Lincoln Wellington AC and third place was won by ex-RAF serviceman Ben Livesey.