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Cheshire East Council agrees budget plans to protect vital services

Cheshire East Council has agreed a budget which will protect vital services including support for growing social care needs.

The budget – which was agreed on Tuesday (27 February) at a meeting of full council – focuses council funds on providing support where it will make the most difference. 

The council will grow and invest in areas where there are increased costs and complexity of demand, as well as give commitment to support those who need the most help. It has agreed to: 

  • Grow and invest in services for adult social care by £9m;
  • Grow and increase funding for children and families by £14.3m;
  • Grow services for youth justice services;
  • Transform services for those with special educational needs and disabilities;
  • Continue with its offer for council tax support for families on low incomes;
  • Support cultural work with the investment in town centre cultural work, West Park Museum and Cheshire Archives;
  • Invest in the maintenance of Crewe town centre, with its new bus station, car park and living wall, and;
  • Invest in highways schemes in the borough.

The council, like others across the country, has been experiencing unprecedented financial pressure. This results from increased demand and costs for adult social care and children’s services, especially special educational needs that have not been met by increased funding. Inflation and interest rates, generally, have also been at high levels in the year since the council’s budget and council tax was set last year. 

The budget outlines £30m in savings across council services to ensure financial sustainability. For example, it will look at ways to generate income from assets such as libraries, review the costs to its garden waste scheme and reduce council office accommodation. 

It also outlines how the council plans to do things differently when it provides services for adults and children. Over the coming year it will look at ways to transform its services to ensure they provide the best value for money. In some areas this will look at ways to boost preventative services and maximises the use of technology (where appropriate). 

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said:

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped us to set this budget under extremely difficult national circumstances. 

“This budget is one of the most challenging we have had in the history of the council. We have focused the council’s resources and funding on services that are in the most demand – while looking at where investment will make the biggest difference to the lives of people across Cheshire East.

“The council has a year of significant transformation ahead of it. Now that the budget is set, it must continue in this journey to develop financially sustainable services for those who need them the most. 

“We must also ensure that projects that come forward are considered in terms of their ‘whole life’ and really challenge what its impacts will be for the many people in the borough. This budget does not mean we will be complacent as there are still many challenges in the year ahead.” 

Councillor Michael Gorman, newly appointed deputy leader at Cheshire East Council, said:

“Over the next year we will be ensuring the council adapts to what it needs to be to deliver the right services to residents. 

“Cheshire East Council has been better placed than most as over the last few years we have a good record of responsible financial management, with fully balanced four-year budgets. However, as a council we are in a worse place than most in that we have low reserves. 

“We have already taken action to try and manage our budget and have been working with government to find solutions to minimise the impact of spending on HS2 and high needs education. Hopefully our plans for the year ahead will see us continue to manage our finances in a fair and prudent way that meets the demand of those most in need. 

“We will be looking at everything right across the council over the coming year, whether it is restricting how the services operate, accelerating digital technology or seeing what projects can be deferred until another point in time.”

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