Date issued: 9 November 2020
Residents are being asked to help Colchester Borough Council understand what matters most to them, as part of a four-week survey launched today (9 November) as the council works to close the budget gap it is facing.
The council currently faces a gap of around £2 million this year – around 10% of our net budget – and £3.5m next year, around 17% of our net budget.
This is due to lost revenue from its services such as leisure centres, museums and car parks as a result of the national lockdown and the Government’s failure to fulfil its promise of ensuring councils were fully supported against the loss of any income.
The online survey will help the council understand where residents across the borough think money should be spent and saved ahead of agreeing its budget next January for 2021/2022.
A full review of everything the council delivers has been undertaken. Their initial plans to close this gap include smarter ways of working, raising income where possible and cost cutting, including job losses where these cannot be avoided. The council will use reserves to help ease the funding gap they are facing this year – but once these are used, they can’t be used again.
As part of the survey, residents are asked how well informed they feel about the council’s budget challenge and to rank the council’s services in importance to them.
They are also asked where the council should prioritise spending or where it should make savings in the next financial year.
Cllr David King, Colchester Council Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: “We are a careful and prudent council, committed to seeking to deliver the best possible services we can. To help enhance the quality of life for our residents and to do so cost effectively.
“However, like many of our businesses and residents we are having to face the harsh economic realities brought about by Covid-19 and the lockdowns and restrictions brought in to stop the spread of the virus.
“Right at the start of the pandemic the Government did promise to provide councils with whatever funding was needed to help them get through this period and come out the other side. While we have received some welcome funding, it is nowhere near the levels we need to support our services in the face of a huge loss of income.
“While we will continue pushing the Government to make good on their promises, we are asking residents to work with us, to ensure that we are using the limited resources we have in the best way for them and the borough as a whole.”
The survey, which will run until Friday 4 December, can be found at http://colchester.gov.uk/budget-challenge-have-your-say