Peterborough City Council budget approved - what this means for you

Last night (Wednesday) budget proposals to save £24 million at Peterborough City Council were approved by councillors.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 6:12 am
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 11:21 am

The proposals by the Conservative run administration passed by 30 votes to 26 with one abstention.

The council has been hit by huge cuts to its funding from the Government over the past decade, and despite the budget proposals approved last night more savings will need to be found before April.

Below are a list of some of the main savings which were approved by councillors yesterday:

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Council tax bills are set to rise

Council tax

. A four per cent rise, with two per cent ringfenced for adult social care, generating an extra £2.8 million a year

. Band D taxpayers will see a rise of nearly £55 a year on their bill

Redundancies

. More than 75 are planned at the council, with potentially a similar number from staff working at the council for contractor Serco which is responsible for a range of frontline and back-office services

. Separately, the Serco budget is to be slashed by £2 million a year

Services for the vulnerable

. Care and support commissioned by the council is currently reviewed every 12 months but will now be reviewed more frequently, which is expected to lead to savings of £1.7 million a year

. Revised funding for the Peterborough Community Assistance Scheme which helps people going through unexpected financial difficulties, leading to savings rising to £473,000 a year. This includes cuts to:

. KingsGate Community Church in Staplee Way which works with volunteers to provide food banks across the city and runs Care Zone, which provides furniture and white goods;

. The Rainbow Saver Anglia in Cattle Market Road, which provides bank accounts to people with poor credit who could not access one on the high street. The council said banks now offer accounts to people with poor credit

. Age UK, which runs a number of services for the council

. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau in St Mark’s Street, which helps people at risk of homelessness, people in debt, the unemployed and people suffering breakdowns

. Healthy Child Programme - hearing screenings for children entering school will be stopped as it is no longer a national requirement. Open access child health promotion clinics will be cut from 12 to six with parents provided “baby self-weigh facilities” and improved “availability of local web-based and digital information on child health”. (£541,000 annual saving)

Reablement flats - the flats support people to regain their independence following a stay in hospital. The council is looking to stop using one of the flats at Lapwing Court in Orton Brimbles, which is owned by Cross Keys Homes, as it says it is no longer needed. (£70,000 one-off saving)

LifeLine - a personal alarm system which is currently free for everyone. It is often used by the most frail. The council will start charging new users to use the service after six weeks. This will be means-tested with the most anyone pays being £4.50 a week. (£57,000 annual saving)

. Winter fuel payments of £50,000 a year to the most vulnerable will be stopped with people instead referred to other places to get advice on where to source financial support. (£50,000 a year saving)

Extra care contract - the contract provides support and help to people who are socially isolated, such as through phone calls. Instead, the council says it will “look to support the recruitment of a bank of volunteers in the community” before training them to provide support to those who are socially isolated. (Savings of up to £71,000 a year)

Youth services - a targeted youth service which focuses on the most vulnerable teenagers in the city is said to have helped see a 30 per cent reduction in the number of young people being taken into care. But non-statutory (essential) youth services will now be cut, such as one to one support and support for running activities and clubs in the community, on top of a reduced drop-in service for young people who are not in education, employment or training. (£516,000 a year saving)

. The council said it will support all affected groups to find alternative funding and that the community will be ‘empowered’ to take on the running of the services

Enforcement

. Kingdom officers have been removed from Peterborough’s streets, with enforcement now completely run by the council

. Part of a series of changes to save £380,000 a year

Vivacity

. The culture and leisure trust has had its budget cut by £357,000 in 2020/21, followed by £307,000 the year after

Councillor perks

. Ending a contract for ICT support and bringing it in-house, saving £45,000

. Ending payments for printer cartridges

. Reducing the budget for members to attend the annual Royal Garden Party from £1,500 to £500, which would cover the cost of train tickets only

. Reducing the budget to bestow civic gifts on visitors such as mayors from other countries, Aldermen, retired councillors and individuals within the community who go above and beyond by £2,500

. Reducing the budget for civic events such as Remembrance Sunday, Holocaust Memorial Day, Fly the Flag, Christmas wreath laying and Armed Forces Day by £7,000. The council said the existing budget was not being fully used

. Reducing the budget for the Mayor of Peterborough’s car by £800 in year one and £3,000 in the years thereafter by negotiating a new contract. In future years the mayor will drive an electric vehicle

. The total savings will be £76,000 in the first year, then £79,000 a year

Renegotiating a PFI deal for three Peterborough schools

. A 30 year contract was agreed in 2005 with IIC Bouygues Education to expand and refurbish Ken Stimpson and Jack Hunt schools and build the Voyager (now Queen Katharine Academy)

. The contract was £60 million but will end up costing taxpayers £115 million, with repayments of roughly £9 million a year for nearly two more decades

. The council will now seek to negotiate part of the facilities management contract (e.g. cleaning, catering and maintenance) to bring down costs by £168,000 a year with the schools also benefitting by the same amount

Street lights

. A trial to dim street lights has begun

. The council has just upgraded 17,000 street lights to energy-efficient LEDs and is now dimming street lights in residential areas by 20 per cent between 9.30pm and 5am

. Street lights on traffic routes are being dimmed by 20 per cent between 9pm and midnight, and by 40 per cent between midnight and 5am. Street lighting in subways have not been dimmed at all

. If this becomes full-time it will save £100,000 a year

Miscellaneous

. A £1.4 million annual saving (rising to £1.5 million) from a restructure of HR

. Sharing more services with Cambridgeshire County Council, including internal audit and communications - an eventual annual saving of £1,1 million

. Reducing security and cleaning at the council’s Sand Martin House offices and nearby multi-storey car park, saving £120,000 a year

. Reducing costs related to school transport, saving £510,000 a year

. Increased revenue of £319,000 a year largely due to the CITB (the Construction Industry Training Board) sub-letting space at Sand Martin House

A full report from the meeting will appear at www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk later today.