Council partnership tackling challenges head on

Torbay Weekly

For years residents have seen services cut and under-investment in their local communities due to the Government’s austerity measures.

This includes a 40 per cent cut to council staff.

Councils have struggled to balance their budgets as central Government has slashed funding, leaving little to spend on valued non-statutory services.

Here in Torbay, we’ve had to make cumulative reductions of more than £500 million over the past 10 years in order to deliver a balanced budget.

Our partnership administration of Liberal Democrats and Independents has not hidden from these challenges.

Since 2019, we have tackled them head on, such as in our children’s services department.

After children’s services was deemed inadequate for a second time under the previous Conservative-led administration, the Government instructed Plymouth City Council to take over its management.

Now, our partnership administration has demonstrated a firm grip on the management of this service, taken it back from Plymouth City Council, have its finances under firm control and is providing much better outcomes.

This is not only benefiting our children and young people but has also released resources we can invest in our community while working together to meet the challenges of a global pandemic.

We want Torbay to become the UK’s premier tourist resort, but recognise that it needs to be cleaner and greener, which is why we are proposing to invest in priority areas that matter to you and your communities, that is to say half a million pounds in the things that make us love living in Torbay in our 2022/23 revenue budget.

We have also allocated £100,000 to enable the planned works at The Pavilion in Torquay to go ahead.

We are proposing an investment of £1.5 million in SWISCo after years of underfunding by its predecessor Tor2.

There’s more investment in harbours, youth support and Torbay community builders.

We want to carry on embedding our partnership and co-operative principles in everything we do, by continuing to work closely with our community and voluntary sector partners, giving power back to them.

We’ll also want to invest more funding in driving forward our capital plan to rejuvenate our economy.

This will support the millions of pounds worth of investment we are making through our capital budget to help Torbay thrive.

The latest Local Government Finance Settlement does not include further funding reductions and has some increases for 2022/23.

However, this must also be treated with great caution.

The settlement is only for one-year and does not provide certainty for longer term financial planning.

We are far from out of the woods and face many other financial challenges.

This includes a cumulative deficit of £9 million to support special educational needs pupils because the costs and demand for education, health and care plans for our pupils exceeds the Government funding allocated to this service.

We continue to deal with the on-going economic impact of Covid-19 which puts pressure on our services and loss of income.

We face higher rates of inflation, increased National Insurance contributions plus rising costs for fuel and utilities.

There is no indication that these will be met in the next few years so we must prudently plan for the future.

The cost of providing social care for adults is increasing and is particularly problematic in Torbay, where we have a population older than the national average.

Despite these challenges, we remain committed to working closely with, and giving power back to, our community and voluntary sector partners.

Your views are important and we’d really welcome your thoughts on our budget proposals.

As part of the consultation, we want to hear about specific areas that you want to see addressed and ideas on how we can work with our communities to deliver services differently.

Torbay is a special place and so please have your say at and shape its future for all our residents, visitors, and future generations.