Wyre Forest District Council achieved savings of around £444,000 over the last 12 months. The council has done this by careful budget management, including both cost savings and increased income generation.
A report setting out the authority’s final accounts for 2017/18 shows savings of £0.4 million from an overall net budget of £12 million.
Savings have come from across all service areas. This includes reducing payroll costs by £148,100, reducing the cost of general administration by £52,400, and reducing interest on external borrowing by £35,600. It also made savings of £53,000 in business rates payable by the council and decommissioning the Glades Leisure Centre achieved a £34,800 saving.
As well as efficiency cost savings, the council’s financial strategy is focussing on generating external income. It has increased income by £58,200 from services such as garden waste collections and sales from the Bewdley Museum and TIC shop. There has also been a £30,400 increase in income from development control. A robust review of specific expenditure reserves also enabled more than £233,000 to be released into general reserves. This has contributed to the overall £0.4m saving for 2017/18.
The council is continuing to work to generate more savings. It is proposing to reinvest £350,000 of the £0.4million savings to fund further transformation work to generate further efficiencies. These plans are part of the Wyre Forest Forward Programme and are being considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday 12 June.
The council’s work attracting regeneration and encouraging business growth in the district has also helped produce a business rates surplus of circa £1 million. This is as a result of improved business rates growth with projects including Bewdley Medical Centre, Coventry Street Medical Centre and Pharmacy, new Aldi at Silverwoods, IGS and Lens Online (Specsavers). The report recognises that some of this year’s surplus will be a one off benefit. It is proposed to allocate £900,000 of the business rates surplus for business rates/regeneration initiatives and a further £100,000 to support costs of new income generation ideas.
The council must continue to find savings in order to plug a funding gap in 2020/21 of around £1.6m. The gap is due to changes in the way local councils are funded by Central Government. The council’s plans are set out in a three year financial strategy which was adopted earlier this year.
Cabinet member for resources Councillor Nathan Desmond said: “Every year the challenge to make savings and increase external income, while continuing to offer value for money services, gets harder. We knew we had a tough job because we were having to make savings from a smaller budget. But once again I’m very pleased that we have achieved more than we projected through sound and prudent budget management.
“The money saved will be careful reinvested to generate further efficiencies and savings, so council services can be protected.”
The Cabinet meeting takes place at 6pm Tuesday 12 June at Wyre Forest House. The meeting can also be viewed via webcast at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/webcast.