We’re launching our 2021/22 budget consultation this week and we want you to have your say.

Along with our partners and the wider community, we’re facing one of our most challenging periods in recent years. We’re dealing with the impact of ongoing austerity alongside the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our spending is going up to meet the emergency response costs of the pandemic and we are seeing an increase in demand for council services such as support for the homeless.

In addition, the income we receive, which supports the services we deliver, has reduced massively this year and that is set to continue next year. As the pandemic continues, we estimate the virus will cost us around £8million in expenditure and lost income in 2021/22.

Rising social care costs, an increase in homelessness and job insecurity both in the Bay and nationally, mean we have to spend more to support the most vulnerable.

It’s not all bad news though - we’ve worked hard to make efficiency savings and have made significant steps in our Children’s Services improvement journey. That means outcomes for our children are better and there are financial benefits.

We have successfully applied for £750,000 funding to regenerate Torquay town centre as part of the Town Investment Plan and are hoping to attract another £25million for the area. We are also seeking funding to support the regeneration of Paignton town centre.

A range of potential savings have already been identified for 2021/22 including:

  • Up to £84,000 to be saved by going ‘paperless’ (and helping the environment at the same time)
  • A saving of £100,000 through Children’s Services changing how they interact with children and their families.
  • Plans to save £600,000, increase recycling from 40 to 50% and reduce our carbon footprint through our Resource and Waste Strategy.
  • Encouraging customers to sign up for paperless Council Tax billing which would significantly reduce paper and postage costs as well as reducing Torbay’s carbon footprint.

The government has put back its national budget to deal with the ongoing COVID crisis so at this stage it is not clear exactly what Torbay’s allocation will be.

Leader of Torbay Council, Councillor Steve Darling, said: “These budget proposals are presented in a period of extreme uncertainty resulting from the ongoing impact of COVID-19, in particular how this is being felt in our local economy. It’s difficult to estimate how much income we will receive as a Council to support our services or how much we will need to spend as we continue to respond to the pandemic. Equally, there is uncertainty over the national financial position including the level of funding that will be made available for local authorities in 2021/22.

“At the start of the year we said we were facing a challenging financial situation, in common with other local authorities. In March this year, everything changed. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our communities and I am in awe of the fantastic response across Torbay. We have been working hard with our partners and our communities to help those in most need and we want to continue to work closely together.

“Please do take the time to have a look at our budget proposals and tell us what you think – we would also like to hear your suggestions and ideas for further savings.”

Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We cannot pretend that the development of these budget proposals has been easy. At this stage, there is still a budget gap which is greater than we would normally want at the start of the consultation period. We have a statutory duty to balance the books by February 2021 and we are doing all we can to do this and deliver a balanced budget for 2021/22.

“What we really want now is to hear your views so we can understand how these budget proposals may have an impact on you. We want to know how we can work together to mitigate the impact or find new solutions to help Torbay thrive.” 

The budget proposals and link to the consultation will be available on our budget page from Wednesday 21 October.

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