Tim Pickstone

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Longtown and the Border Learn more

Budget Council 2024

by timpickstone1 on 9 March, 2024

This Wednesday, was Cumberland Council’s Budget Council meeting. This is the formal meeting, which takes place once a year, where Councillors together agree the budget for the following financial year (ie the year starting 1 April 2024), and set the rates of Council Tax for the new year.

Council Budget 2024-25

Like all local councils, Cumberland is facing a very difficult financial situation. Part of this is historic, as Governments over many years have limited the amount of money that local government gets and how much it can raise. These limits get even tighter under the current Government.

Part of this is due to the general state of the country, in particular rising prices in many areas which for local councils will largely be higher pay rises for staff (these are not set by Cumberland, but set nationally) and increased energy and fuel costs.

And part of this is due to rising demand, in particular rising demand for care services for both adults (e.g. older adults and disabled people), and for children. Both of these keep rising – because thankfully people live longer, but also there are increased demand for children who have particular care and support needs.

Cumberland is also in a fairly special situation, because it was only established a year ago and we are still working through merging four different councils.

Cumberlands revenue (day to day spending) budget for 2024-25 is £319 million, which is after agreeing to make savings across the organisation.

This is funded by:
– Council tax – £163 million
– Business rates – £92 million
– Government grants £61 million

The Council also has a Capital Budget (investment spending), most of which is funded by specific government grants. This is for £183 million in 2024-25.

Liberal Democrat Proposals

Cumberland is run by the Labour group, but opposition parties will normally make proposals for changes to the budget. This year the only proposal came from us in the Liberal Democrat Group, which I proposed as Group Leader.

Our proposals were for:
– More investment in school buildings (we believe the current budget is woefully not enough)
– Extra winter gritting (an extra gritter and crew)
– An addition rural transport scheme in the former Carlisle City Council area (at present there are schemes in Allerdale and Copeland but not Carlisle).
– More money for traffic regulation orders (e.g. to allow roads that need to be made 30mph or 20mph).
– Money in grants to allow local groups to contribute to contribute to environmental priorities like Net Zero.
We paid for this through reducing the amount of money spent in renovating Council Buildings and by reducing the amount of money spent on management.

Sadly, our proposals were voted down with all Labour, Conservative and Green Party councillors voting against.

Council Tax 2024-25

The Council Tax increase for Cumberland will be the maximum that is normally allowed by Government which is 4.99% (2.99% Council Tax and 2% for Social Care Precept).

In addition to this we see a smaller charge for Cumbria Fire and Rescue, and for Cumbria Police, both of which have gone up by similar amounts.

Parish Councils set their own rates, so these are different for each of our Parish Councils.
I will do a separate post when all these tables are published.

The meeting also allowed some time for questions on non budget related issues.

I asked a question about recycling rates in Cumberland (ie what proportion of waste goes to to recycling or composting). I was told 54.7%, however I am not sure that this is the correct figure, as the figure for last year (for Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland added together) was more like 34%. Even on a good day this feels like a remarkable transformation in less than a year. I have asked for the figures to be clarified….

The papers for the meeting are here.

Any questions please just ask.

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