Challenges ahead to balance budget

PUBLISHED: 13:26 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:26 31 January 2014

Archant

Finance chiefs at the district council have vowed to ‘work hard’ to protect front-line services in the face of falling income.

East Devon District Council has also pledged to freeze council tax for the fourth successive year.

This will receive a reward from the Government in the form of a cash sum.

The council said that thanks to ‘careful financial management’ EDDC goes into the next fiscal year with a small surplus of around £70,000.

This will be used to help offset an expected deficit in 2015/16.

This is despite the government’s grant, which is likely to be slashed by 14 per cent, a 33 per cent reduction since 2011.

EDDC’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor David Cox, said: “Staying solvent is getting more difficult every year, with cuts in funding from Central Government becoming a regular thing, plus continuing low investment income – whilst at the same time there is an increase in demand for some services.

“We are working hard to maintain our front-line services in the face of ongoing financial challenges.”

EDDC is also looking to cut costs and the decision to move from Knowle to more suitable, cheaper accommodation to slash overheads is an example of this practice.

Councillor Cox added: “A balanced draft budget has now been presented for 2014/15, following the work of the Budget Working Party. Good progress has also been made to balance the 2015/16 budget. Looking beyond this, the council will continue to find it difficult to afford its spending plans due to continued Government funding cuts, inflation, low investment income, freezing the council tax and ever-increasing demand for its services. Further work will be needed to present balanced budgets in the future.”

● The final decision on the 2014/15 draft revenue and capital budgets will be made by the full council at its meeting on Wednesday, February 26.

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