Wednesday, 18 September 2013

City Council Leader Calls For New Ways Of Working

Cllr Tim Bick
As Cambridge City Council is braced for continued reductions in government grant, its leader has issued a warning to councillors and the public that the Council will need to look very different as a result.

According to the City Council's Mid-Year Financial Review, it will get just under £100,000 less than expected in grant next year, but more seriously around £1 million less the following year. Similar reductions of 13 per cent annually are forecast until the government grant hits zero in 2020.

Its saving target is now £6.3 million over the next four years, some 30 per cent of its total net budget.

Cambridge City Council Leader, Tim Bick said the pressure on local government finance means the council must now look at wholly new ways of working.

“For more than 10 years the Council has had an engrained process of service reviews which have yielded very substantial savings,” he said. “These have successfully enabled it to keep pace with reductions in central government funding under this government and the last. They have also provided it with the means to re-invest, to innovate and to meet new service demands.

“The future is likely to look and feel very different. Organisationally the City Council is likely to be smaller and, on its own, doing less. The Council will need to be more creative in using the resources that are available. It will need to give priority to tackling the underlying issues that could prevent the problems which drive demand for some of our services. It will need to work with partners to make better use of resources across public agencies through techniques such as community budgeting.”

He added that some services such as art, leisure and community development will need to focus more tightly on activities that cannot be supported by the community itself or the market and to give priority to areas where only the council can make a difference, especially to ensure the disadvantaged are included.

“This will call for a mind-set change for the Council, so it is doing less on behalf of people - doing more to help them to do it for themselves wherever they can,” he added. “We expect the Council to continue to maintain its role as a major provider of social housing and to give priority to services for the disadvantaged.

“As strong advocates of power at local level, we approach this underlying change in local public resources less with relish than realism. The combination of positive and imaginative leadership, a direction of travel and a strong sense of unchanging values is most likely to deliver the best results for our residents and the city.