BUDGET round-up: £600,000 on council laptops, arts building funding and £1m more from business rates

Coun Peter Hiller and Coun John Holdich with contractors Ryan Clifford, Michael Martin and Bob Ellington
Coun Peter Hiller and Coun John Holdich with contractors Ryan Clifford, Michael Martin and Bob Ellington

Plans to give all Peterborough City Council staff a Chromebook laptop at a cost of £600,000 are included in the authority’s latest budget proposals.

The council said the idea is good value for money as it ensures staff can work with as much agility and efficiency as possible.

Some current laptops, desktop computers and tablets are also said to be coming to the end of their lives.

The handover of the Chromebooks, which has already begun, is expected to be completed before staff move to new offices in Fletton Quays.

John Harrison, council corporate director for resources, said there will be fewer desks at Fletton Quays for staff and he gave a recent example of why he belives the Chromebooks represent value for money.

He said: “They enable social workers to work off site so it’s like being able to work at their desks.”

Other budget details include:

. A financial hit of nearly £100,000 for the council with five more primary schools set to become academies. The majority of this hit comes from a reduction in business rates due to academies being able to claim an 80 per cent discount.

. A proposal to develop a café and facility for spinning at the Regional Pool as well as making alterations to the swimming pool at Jack Hunt.

. £1 million more than expected on business rates in the last year. That increase is set to go up to £5.3 million in 2021/22. Council tax receipts are also £137,000 higher than expected.

. An extra £796,000 to be spent on ICT.

. Nearly £5 million to be saved from selling assets the council currently leases out.

. The council’s move to Fletton Quays, and the letting of non-civic areas of the Town Hall and Bayard Place, is set to cost £689,000 less than expected.

. An extra £1 million investment is proposed for a new arts building at Fletton Quays. The council hopes to be able to secure £2.5 million of grant funding towards the project.

. The council wants to pay staff the new voluntary living wage of £8.45 per hour but will remove increased weekend pay for staff earning more than £24,000 a year and will stop paying the membership of staff to be part of professional bodies which currently costs hundreds of pounds. The mileage rate for travel will also increase from 25p to 30p.

. There are to be no redundancies.

BUDGET STORIES

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