Warning Over Council Budget Shortfalls

The Town Hall

The Council’s head of finance has warned members that they need to start planning for significant shortfalls in the budget next year.

And measures to “balance the books” could include reducing costs, dipping into reserves or trying to raise more income, most likely through increasing Council Tax rates.

Iain McCulloch, speaking at Tuesday’s Policy and Resources committee, said that the government was implementing changes in how local authorities are funded and there were likely to be cuts in the grants the Council receives.

However, the government has still not announced what these will be and the Council is unlikely to hear it allocation for next year until 19th December.

Changes to the way business rates are collected are also going to have an impact and there will be, “a huge amount of extra complexity” in managing the finances.

Iain advised the committee chairs that they would need to sit down with their officers and go through the budgets carefully to identify potential savings.

And while Scilly has been spared the worst of the cuts so far, Iain warned that, “we need to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Cllr Richard McCarthy said the process facing them was “challenging and daunting,” but recognised that it was also a valuable exercise that had to be done.

However, Cllr Christine Savill said it was also important that the Council sets its overall priorities rather than leaving this to individual committees.

Estimates made by the finance department show that in 2013/14 the council deficit could be anywhere between £174,000 at best and £451,000 in the worst case.

Committee chairs will need to have their budget figures in place by early next year.


8 Responses to Warning Over Council Budget Shortfalls

  1. Todd Stevens November 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Financial disaster looming too now is it?. Yet another area of incompetence identified under the governorship of the current (suspened) CEO?

  2. LINDYLOU November 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    In the late 80s video conferencing was to be the next big thing to alleviate the need for expensive time and travel, hence cutting the cost to companies large and small. Councils are companies in all but name so why has that technology not been adopted, would save a lot of expenses and time.

  3. Paul Whittaker November 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I could not agee with you more Mike. How can he justify expenses of £350 a week. That is a lot more than most people on Scilly earn per week. If the council need to balance the books they Know where to start.

  4. Mike Brown November 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Two FOI’s revealed to me that Iain McCulloch’s boss, the director of finance claimed expenses for the year 2011/12 totalling £18,351.71

    That’s over £350 every week. Extravagant in my view to say the least and sadly not leading by example.

    Surely our councillors can’t go on sanctioning this.

    • Nobby Nobbs November 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      When you say “Iain McCulloch’s boss, the director of finance” do you mean Peter Lawrence by any chance.

      If the director of finance is claiming £18,351.71 in expenses one has to ask the question……. why?
      The next question to ask is………who is signing off these expenses?
      Closely followed by the question “Do our elected councillors know about this and if so what are they doing about it”

      I wish I could claim £18,351.71 pa in expenses

  5. Katie F November 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Nobby Nobbs, I think it’s important to be accurate with these things. I don’t think that the saving to islanders would be quite so high because so much money comes through central funding; we wouldn’t be able to support ourselves otherwise. Whilst ‘cutting the top two jobs’ may be a step in a certain direction for funding issues, it really wouldn’t be a panacea… Funding issues clearly run much deeper than two posts. Furthermore, if the top two jobs were cut, a huge amount of money would need to be diverted to ‘replacements’ on the mainland, Cornwall couldn’t simply plug the gap for free. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, just attempting to suggest (and I await the backlash, I know it’s inevitable…) that we can’t keep touting ‘the top two jobs’ as the main source of all of our woes!

    • Nobby Nobbs November 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      Regardless of where the funding comes from, there is going to be less of it, so the council needs to reduce its spend accordingly.
      There is no shortfall, just a reduction in funding.

      However regards our beloved council, your right getting rid of the two senior posts won’t solve all the councils spending problems, instead why don’t we get rid of ALL the senior officers and save ourselves around £500,000 instead.
      Better still, seeing as we buy in so much from Cornwall CC already why not shut ios council down and let Cornwall do the job instead.

  6. Nobby Nobbs November 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Looks like they might have to finally start cutting staff numbers at the town hall to make the books balance, Might I suggest starting at the top and working your way down.

    The top two jobs alone would save tax payers £175,000