When I last wrote here four weeks ago we were waiting to hear from the Government about how their spending plans will hit us.
Since then, we have had some announcements, as well as the Budget, that have given us a slightly clearer – though I wouldn’t go further than that – idea of what we can expect.
We now know that this year we will receive £5 million less than expected from the Government. This means the budget agreed in March has to be reviewed.
The lion’s share of these cuts are £2.2 million from the work we do with our partners such as the Police, and almost £2 million from a grant to children’s services.
As well as these cuts, we have been told that most Government departments will be expected to find an average of 25 percent savings for the next few years.
Some people might not think this will affect us, but roughly three-quarters of the money we spend comes from the Government, with the rest coming from the council tax you pay directly to us.
This money doesn’t come in one large sum, but rather in grants from different departments for different things - from the Department for Education for schools, from the Home Office for community safety, from the Department for Transport for roads etc.
Now, if these departments have to cut 25% (though there have been reports of even more) it will have a massive impact on the services we provide.
To make things even more difficult, we won’t find out how much less each area will have until October, giving us very little time to prepare our own budgets for the next financial year.
That is why we have been working for the last few weeks to plan how we can carry on delivering essential services for less money.
We do not want children in the borough to suffer from these cuts, so we are looking to see how we can make the savings for this year from elsewhere in the organisation.
We provide more than 400 different services for local residents and businesses, so as you can imagine, there is a lot to do to see where we can make savings.
These decisions will have significant implications in the future, so there is a tremendous amount of work taking place behind the scenes to plan how we can tackle the tough times ahead.
We want to make sure local people are central to this so will be looking to involve ordinary people in the process as much as possible.
I am confident that with careful planning, honest engagement and by working together we will be able to track a course through the stormy financial waters ahead.