'We have had to become agile and operate differently' - how Stevenage Borough Council is ensuring financial stability
Cllr Joan Lloyd
- Credit: Stevenage Borough Council
Cllr Joan Lloyd, executive member for resources at Stevenage Borough Council, explains how the council has worked to maintain its services following financial hardship.
There has been a lot of media coverage and social media conversations about the financial situation of local councils. Our council is no different and the team at Stevenage Borough Council has been working hard to ensure our financial stability.
We all know the last 18 months have been challenging for numerous reasons. The pandemic has affected us all and has led to various changes to the way we work, shop, travel, interact and use public services.
At our council, we have had to make some very tough decisions too. We have had to become agile and operate differently whilst still delivering over lots of services to support people who rely upon our help.
When people or residents think of a council, they tend to think of waste collections, housing or car parks. Our council delivers over 120 services to improve the lives of the young (Play Service includes holiday and afterschool clubs) to older residents (Specialist Support Services to live independently or with assistance).
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We are also responsible for planning in our town and oversee planning applications, travel safety and environmental matters. Our ambitious plans to transform our town centre gathers speed from the newly launched Co-Space flexible workspace to the refurbished Town Square which provides an attractive area for the local community, businesses and visitors to meet. We work with and support entrepreneurs, local businesses and community groups to ensure everyone has a voice and contributes to the shaping of our town.
However, we have lost significant government funding with over £5million of cuts. This has been very difficult to keep most of our services going without increasing our fees for some of services.
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The council tax you pay helps to address this huge gap in funding. However, we plan to make our services more digitally available so that we can save money and make it easier for residents to access them at a time that suits them. We want to continue to run most of our services.
We only keep a small part of the council tax. Each Band C household will pay Stevenage Borough Council £196.06 for 2021/22. This is the equivalent of just under 54p per day, for the council to spend on all the services we provide to Stevenage residents.
We are now at the mid-point of the year and we have reviewed our financial plans to create a Medium Term Financial Strategy. The COVID pandemic is not fully funded by the government which we estimate will cost us an extra £2.4million in 2020/21, this, plus further pressures on our council continues to challenge our budget. We have to deal with increasing homeless costs.
This council that I am very proud to represent as the executive member for resources responsible for financial matters and have done so for over 45 years means I know first-hand we have the right staff and experience and knowledge to face balancing budgets head on and succeed in delivering the very best, and in some cases award-winning services for the people of Stevenage.
We are interested in hearing your views on the town so if you’d like to hear more about future engagement opportunities in your neighbourhood and across the town please email, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our https://www.stevenage.gov.uk/have-your-say/consultation-and-engagement page for more information.