Surrey County Council has published its draft 2021/22 budget, outlining how its secure financial position will continue to help guide Surrey through the COVID pandemic and invest in recovery.
Transformation of the council over the last three years has put the organisation in a strong financial position – giving security and certainty to Surrey’s response to COVID since last March.
The council has worked alongside partners through the Local Resilience Forum in managing what has been an ongoing major incident. It has met the cost of PPE delivered to the frontline, given financial support to the care and voluntary sectors, helped vulnerable residents, and provided staffing resource to help the county through the pandemic.
The draft budget also recognises the ongoing impact of COVID and long-term recovery, with huge investment over the next five years that will help boost the local economy and meet future challenges.
The proposed Council Tax increase of 2.49% is half of the amount permitted by government and much less than that planned by other authorities across the UK, again recognising the financial impact of COVID on residents.
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “This is a budget that demonstrates our commitment to helping our residents through the challenges they are facing now, and also our determination to give Surrey a brighter future.
“COVID has had a huge impact and thanks to the hard work over the last few years to transform the council and sort out its finances, we have been able to provide that financial security and certainty in guiding Surrey through the pandemic.
“Alongside that, we’ve continued with our ambitions in improving services and making this organisation fit for the future. That work will continue.
“The investment set out over the next five years is huge – almost £2bn dedicated to improving infrastructure, tackling the climate emergency, growing the local economy, providing jobs, reducing inequality and ultimately improving the lives of all our residents.
“We have proposed a much smaller Council Tax increase than previous years, and in comparison to other areas, but I still recognise that people pay a lot in Surrey and we must demonstrate to those Council Tax payers that we are spending their money wisely and delivering the best value. We will continue to drive out greater efficiencies wherever we can and look to pass on that benefit to residents in the form of lower council tax wherever possible.
“I’m confident this budget does that, in line with our priorities of growing a sustainable economy, tackling health inequalities, enabling a greener future and empowering communities.”
The Council’s dedicated Transformation Programme has saved the council around £74m in efficiencies so far, with a further £75m projected over the next few years, while improving services for residents.
The proposed revenue budget – or ‘day-to-day spending’ – is set to increase slightly this year, to almost £1bn.
More than half of that is spent on services to protect the most vulnerable in society. More than £1m every single day is spent on Adult Social Care and more than £500,000 is spent every day on Children’s Services.
Revenue spending also includes £140m on Environment, Transport and Infrastructure, over £30m on Public Health, £37m on Community Protection (including Surrey Fire & Rescue Service), £65m on resources (which includes many of the functions like IT that enable us to deliver vital services), £17m on our transformation programme (that delivers longer term savings) and our work to improve community engagement, and £83m on central income and expenditure which is things like payments on borrowing and contingency.
This money comes from Council Tax and Business Rates, as well as some government grants.
The Council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy outlines capital (one-off) investment that totals around £2bn over the next five years.
This 5-year investment plan has become even more important in ensuring the county and communities can thrive over the coming years of recovery from the impact of COVID-19.
- The £100m Your Fund Surrey has launched and will strengthen communities and give residents more power and influence.
- £33m investment into Surrey Fire & Rescue Service infrastructure
- £116m invested in infrastructure aimed at boosting economic growth across the county
- £286m for large scale infrastructure projects like in Farnham town centre and the A320 scheme
- An ambitious commitment to deliver a greener and more sustainable future for Surrey residents, including:
- £253m investment and leadership on flood alleviation which will protect tens of thousands of homes and businesses from further disaster and give future security and peace of mind.
- £105m set aside for projects including renewable energy, active travel and the move towards zero carbon; including £48m investment in low emission buses to help tackle climate change and improve sustainable transport
- Our £268m investment in schools and £74m in SEND provision will ensure our children can overcome this year’s disruption and get the best possible start in life.
- £264m investment in highways will boost active travel and make getting around the county smoother
- £170m investment in accommodation for Looked After Children, Extra Care and independent living, to ensure our those most in need can be given better life chances and live safely and independently.
More information is available at: Surrey County Council – Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday, 26 January 2021, 2.00 pm (surreycc.gov.uk)