Council recognises continued financial pressures and challenges as it considers budget

Braintree District Council recognises the continued financial pressures and challenges ahead as it considers initial proposals to deliver a balanced budget at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.

Like many councils across the country, Braintree District Council is experiencing significant budget pressures within a challenging and uncertain economic environment, with continuing inflationary pressures combined with an increased demand for council services.

The council faces a £2.181m budget gap over the next four years and is preparing to meet its longer-term challenges and address the budget gap through a comprehensive transformation programme. Work is already underway looking at how the council works and what opportunities exist to deliver services through collaboration and partnerships, as well as closely scrutinising how it uses its assets. At the same time Braintree District Council is continuing to deliver and invest in essential services for residents and businesses.

Work is also being carried out to develop a new Corporate Strategy through to 2028 taking on board the feedback received from residents’ and businesses, which will help us to steer the council’s priorities, shape services and help focus its spending.

Sound financial management and the ability to deliver savings and efficiencies and generate more income over many years has left the council in a strong position.

The council plans to use some of its financial reserves to address the short-term budget gap and mitigate areas of potential financial risk to the council, as well as a mix of spending reductions, additional income and continued careful financial management.

Budget proposals will be considered by councillors at the Cabinet meeting on Monday 27 November, with the final budget being agreed in February 2024.

No decisions have been taken on council tax plans for 2024/25 yet and this will not happen until February 2024 when the council has more certainty over its funding position when information on the financial settlement from government is confirmed.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “Nationally many councils are facing immediate financial pressures and whilst we are in a stronger position than many due to our track record of good financial management, we are not complacent as we continue to face significant challenges ahead and need to address the longer-term budget gap. With less funding available and more people needing our support, we are doing everything we can to provide value for money and making sure our council is fit for the future.”

Cllr Kevin Bowers, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance at Braintree District Council, said: “We have made over £10m worth of savings and income over the past 10 years, so this makes future savings much more difficult. We need to continue doing all we can to present a balanced budget over future years and we can only achieve this through more transformational changes to ensure we can maintain our financial resilience, whilst focusing our resources on key services that residents and businesses rely upon.”

The budget proposals will be discussed at a Corporate Scrutiny Committee next week on Wednesday 22 November, and then considered by Cabinet on Monday 27 November and February next year, with the final budget being agreed at Full Council in February 2024.

The Cabinet papers can be viewed online.

Published: 17th November 2023