Scrutiny asked for ideas for addressing Council’s funding challenge

The severe financial challenges facing Plymouth City Council as its funding reduces have been set out in a draft medium term financial strategy to be considered by the Council’s scrutiny on Wednesday.

The strategy sets out the funding needed to provide Council services and deliver priorities for the city over the next three years.

The draft being considered by the Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee highlights the rising costs facing the Council, particularly in providing adult and children’s social care services as demand increases.

The Council is facing a further shortfall of £12.8 million between 2017/18 and 2019/20 after already delivering more than £30 million savings over the last few years.

The report outlines how the Council has been addressing its reducing funding with a large-scale programme of transforming services. This has seen services provided in new ways such as the pioneering integration of council social care and NHS staff into one service.

Council leader Ian Bowyer said: “The Council has done well in facing its financial challenges so far but looking ahead things are going to be even tougher and we are facing very serious threats to valued services unless firm action is taken soon. This is why the draft medium term financial strategy needs to be considered at an early stage and we are doing this openly, starting with Scrutiny.

“There’s a lot of work to be done on it but we wanted input from all members on how we face up to these challenges.

“Officers have suggested some potential ideas for reducing spending that they feel we should consider but we want to receive more ideas from all members before taking anything forward for further working up. I am hoping not just scrutiny – but all members – will come up with further ideas. We want to make decisions that are in the best interests of Plymouth families that we are here to serve.

“The ideas presented by officers include changing the way we deliver waste and recycling services, such as the possibility of alternate weekly bin collections. This has been put in front of various Council administrations over the years and our position as a new administration is that we want more ideas and all the information on the table before we consider them.

“One of this administration’s commitments is to involve our communities more in setting the budgets for local services so we will be asking for ideas from residents. Nothing at this stage can be ruled in or out – we need to look at the full picture and all suggestions before making any decisions.”