Guildford Borough Council wants to know where they should be prioritising spending
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Guildford Borough Council wants to know where they should be prioritising spending

Surrey News

Guildford Borough Council wants to know where they should be prioritising spending

Guildford Borough Council is asking residents to have their say on where the Council should prioritise it’s spending after medium-term budget plans considered by the Executive last week predicted a shortfall of £2 million next year, rising to a total £4.4 million in the next four years.

They would like to know where residents think they should save money and where they should prioritise spending. The survey will run until January and will show the Council which services are most important to them and which are not as important.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore said: ‘These are challenging times. Despite effective management and careful savings of £11 million through our ongoing Future Guildford Transformation Programme, government funding cuts and supporting our communities through the pandemic mean we are using reserves to maintain our services and this is not a sustainable situation.

Guildford Borough Council wants to know where they should be prioritising spending

‘Some residents may feel their council tax payments should provide us with all the income we need to keep our borough going, but this is not the case. From the average ‘Band D’ property council tax payment we keep just 9% of the total for our own services. This means for a ‘Band D’ home we receive around £200 per property each year.’

He explains: ‘For this £200 (or 9%) we have been able to provide £450 worth of services to our residents across a wide range of activities. We’ve done this through commercial income such as investment property, car parking and income from sports facilities which bring in around £21 million per year. This year, with the Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak and most of us staying safe at home and following the government guidance to protect the NHS and each other, this additional income has been severely impacted. We expect to lose around £8 million income and expect to spend an additional £5.4million providing extra services such as hot and cold meals and helplines to support our vulnerable communities. We’ve had £4.7 million in government support and expect a further £2 million which makes £6.7 million in total, leaving us with a £6.7 million shortfall.’

Lead Councillor for Finance, Cllr Tim Anderson said: ‘Another misconception is that we earn a substantial income through our borough’s business rates. We actually keep around 5% of this and the rest is distributed throughout the country. Local Authorities need to work within the limits of public sector rules, for example just selling a building won’t solve the problem. It is a fixed capital cost. We are unable to borrow money for day-to-day running costs so this is why we must make savings to bridge the deficit. There are difficult decisions ahead and our residents will be part of our decision-making process every step of the way.’

Guildford Borough Council wants to know where they should be prioritising spending

The online survey is available here: https://www.guildford.gov.uk/budgetconsultation and in addition, a telephone survey of approximately 1100 residents is being conducted.

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