Lower school transport costs, reduced security and fewer agency social workers - Peterborough City Council budget round-up

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Peterborough City Council released its first set of budget proposals for 2020/21 on Friday.

The measures will tackle £24 million of the council’s £33 million deficit, with a second set of proposals to be revealed in the new year.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich at Sand Martin House

Council leader Cllr John Holdich at Sand Martin House

The Peterborough Telegraph has outlined the main proposals (see below) on our website, and here we list some of the smaller savings which have been proposed by the authority.

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Road safety - £30k a year saving

A new road safety project budget has not been fully spent, so the council will instead keep hold of the remaining money to tackle its deficit.

City College Peterborough - £74k a year saving

The vacant Head of Post 16 is to be deleted, with responsibilities shared elsewhere.

Income from room hire charges at the Education Conference Centre will now be split with the council (£22,000 a year each).

Sharing services - £483k saving in year one, rising to £1.1m by year three

A number of teams within the council including finance, project management, business intelligence and procurement will be reshaped.

In addition, a number of services will be shared with Cambridgeshire County Council, including internal audit and communications, which includes media, marketing, internal communications, the website and the council’s fully funded print and design function.

HR - £1.4m saving in year one, rising to £1.5m in years two and three

There will be a centralisation of HR oversight in areas such as absence management, leave, agency/interim spend, recruitment and training.

All non-statutory training will be removed in the council for the next 12 to 18 months, with additional training deemed to be essential being reviewed and considered by the council’s corporate management team.

Reduction in agency staff in children’s social care - £173k saving in year one, rising to £217k a year in future years

There are currently six agency workers covering vacant posts in Peterborough and 9.5 other posts that are vacant.

A new campaign which looks to highlight social work careers and to encourage applications has recently launched which the council expects to achieve results. A similar campaign running in Cambridgeshire since July has already resulted in 15 new permanent children’s social workers joining the authority.

Security and cleaning at Sand Martin House - £120k a year saving

There is currently 24/7 security guard cover at the council’s Sand Martin House offices at Fletton Quays.

The council is proposing to adjust the hours, supplemented by a mobile patrol, and reduce the cleaning regime at the offices and the nearby multi-storey car park.

Review of school transport costs - £510,000 a year saving

A review of spend across school transport is said to have revealed a number of areas where the council’s spend per child is significantly above comparable local authorities.

The council intends to “reduce contract costs, manage demand and increase efficiency” alongside Cambridgeshire County Council.

Income from Sand Martin House - £319,000 a year saving

One floor of Sand Martin House has been sub-let to the CITB (the Construction Industry Training Board) which is also making a contribution towards service charges.

Moreover, business rates are less than previously estimated.

Reduced property portfolio - £193,000 a year saving

The council now has a smaller property portfolio after consolidating its office space and moving to Sand Martin House, and because the majority of schools are now academies and responsible for their own buildings.

As a result, the council is proposing to reduce the size of the contingency budget, held in case of unforeseen property problems, such as urgent repairs.