We currently spend around £21m each year on a range of services for people who live and work in Pendle. Most people use our services every day.
Refuse and recycling collections, parks and play areas, sports and leisure, protecting the local environment, promoting economic development, improved housing and anti-social behaviour are just some of the services meeting your needs every week.
Most of the £21m is used to pay our staff or contractors and the running costs of buildings, offices, vehicles and other facilities. This is what we call revenue spending.
We raise our revenue through the council tax or business rates you pay, charges we make for some services and, crucially, grant funding from the government.
In 2016/17 the Council increased its Council Tax for the first time since 2008/09. We increased our Council Tax again in the current year. The Government limits the amount by which we can increase council tax each year to the greater of £5 or 1.99%. This gives us additional council tax income of £117,000 per year.
Since 2010 our government funding has reduced by 54%, equivalent to £7m. As a result of this, and other factors, we have had to reduce our spending by £8m over the same period. We’ve so far found most of these savings without making a significant impact on the visible frontline services you use. For example, since 2010, we’ve reduced our staff from 400 to 233. The majority of those jobs were staff who worked behind the scenes and in managerial jobs. As much as possible we have protected jobs in frontline services.
We’ve also worked hard to become more efficient and have found ways of doing things differently. For example, we’ve transferred some of our facilities and services such as community centres, public conveniences and play areas to local town and parish councils who can often provide them more cheaply. This also has the advantage of ensuring they remain in local ownership for the foreseeable future. We continue to invest in technology with the aim of becoming 'digital by default' providing customers with 24/7 access to a wide range of council services and information online.
We expect that our government funding will continue to reduce each year until 2021. As a result we estimate we’ll need to reduce our spending by around £3.8m over the next three years.
We’ll only be able to balance the books by making major changes to many of our services. For example:
we’ll have to look at our bin collections and street cleansing services
whether we can continue to operate all our leisure and sports facilities as we do now
and whether to introduce more charges for services such as bulky household waste collections
We stress that no decisions have yet been taken on these but they show the seriousness of the financial difficulties facing the Council and the potential impact on local people.