Westmorland and Furness Council protects frontline services in tough financial times

Since the creation of Westmorland and Furness Council on 1 April 2023, the council has been working hard to stabilise and deliver real improvements on the ground for its residents and communities.

Its council plan lays out an exciting future and clearly articulates its ambitions to make Westmorland and Furness a great place to live, work and thrive.

The council, despite challenging financial pressures, is committed to supporting people to have healthy lives, reduce inequality, drive delivery of carbon net zero, support its communities and enable sustainable economic growth. Its unwavering focus on these issues has already made a positive difference and in its first year (2023/24), the council has invested over £5m in new projects and schemes to directly benefit many of its residents and communities.

The council must also secure a financially sustainable future and to do this must transform – so an ability to invest in future transformation will be essential.

After careful consideration, given the current economic climate and the uncertainty of future funding, Westmorland and Furness Council is therefore now seeking residents’ views on a proposal to increase the council’s share of council tax by 2.99% for next year and implement the Government’s 2% rise for the Adult Social Care precept; this takes the total increase to 4.99%.

If approved, this will help the council achieve a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement.

The council has today launched a consultation on its budget proposals which will run until 19 January 2024. The full consultation document can be viewed at www.westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk/budget.

Feedback from the public consultation will be considered by Cabinet and then go to Full Council on 22 February 2024 with recommendations alongside the Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

Cllr Andrew Jarvis, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said:

“As everyone knows it’s a tough financial climate out there and many people and families remain badly affected by the cost of living crisis. Like every household, and family, the council has also had to manage very high increases in many of its costs, such as materials and fuel.

“We have been working hard to balance the council’s budget in unprecedented financial times so that we can continue to support our residents and deliver our services. We also know that to be ready for the future we must continue to invest in transformation and new ways of working. We can’t do this alone and we recognise that by working together with our partners and communities we can make a difference, safeguarding essential services and driving forward positive change at a much quicker pace.

“Overall, considering the national picture, our budget is in reasonable shape but there are still many challenges and pressures. We are unlikely to receive the funding we really need from government. At the time of launching our consultation, we still have a £5m gap, but this is manageable and we are working hard to reduce this so that by February 2024 we can agree a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement. We must also continue to transform services so we can realise savings as we move ahead and deliver on the benefits that can be achieved as a result of us being a unitary council.

“Our budget choices affect residents, the amount they pay and the services that they receive. That is why I am encouraging everyone, residents and partners alike, to have their say on this year’s budget consultation; so that we can shape our future together.”

A teal banner featuring the Westmorland and Furness Council logo and following text: Funding our future together. Budget consultation 2024/25.

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