In stark contrast to neighbouring Labour run Manchester City Council, Trafford Conservatives have today released details of their draft budget for 2011/12, based on the priorities outlined in their recent citizens' debate, the largest consultation in Trafford's history.
Despite receiving a bigger cut in formula grant from Government than Manchester (13.3% compared to 10.9%), over 83% of savings (£18.1m) are efficiencies that will have no effect on service levels. Specifically:
- A reduction in the number of Council managers and fewer back office staff to protect front line services. £0.8m in management costs will be saved with a further £1.5m saved from human resources, finance, training, performance and communications. Under Conservative control,
Trafford has the leanest management and overhead structure in Greater Manchester, but even so, higher paid staff like solicitors will be shared with other authorities.
- Smarter purchasing and commissioning which will deliver £4.5m of savings.
More efficient ways of service delivery (saving £4.9m), including:
- Personalisation of adult social care where users decide for themselves what services suit their needs.
- A move away from residential childrens care to allow greater investment in foster care, which is more economical and beneficial for the child being cared for.
- A single unified Environmental Services team (Groundforce) which has already shown service improvements through Trafford's highly praised response to the bad weather over Christmas and New Year.
- A restructure in the Council's contact centre, Access Trafford, resulting in financial savings in excess of £400k, longer opening hours and improved customer service.
- A more effective frontline community safety service, locating Council staff within neighbourhoods, working closely with Neighbourhood Policing Teams, enabling crime and antisocial behaviour to be tackled at the earliest possible stage.
- Volunteers are being used to deliver Council services, including in the home library service.
Despite the significant reduction in funding from Government, Conservatives are proposing to invest £4m of extra cash to support vulnerable children and older people and an extra £100k to support the voluntary sector and volunteering.
Unlike Manchester City Council who have announced 2,000 job losses, preparations have been in place for months to limit the impact on staff. By controlling the filling of vacancies, since last Summer, only 150 staff are at risk of redundancy.
As a result of the high level of efficiencies delivered by local Conservatives, a number of savings proposals are not being pursued, including:
- Following resident feedback, unlike other authorities, Trafford will be keeping weekly general household waste collections.
- Reductions in school crossing patrols will not be pursued
- Deep cleaning of our town centres will remain. Leader of the Council,
Cllr Matt Colledge, said:
"Despite facing the biggest reduction in spending in Trafford’s history this budget shows that we have protected front line services by slashing management and back office costs, by making the organisation leaner and more efficient and through new and innovative ways of working. Residents have been clear with us this is what they expect and we will continue with our modernising agenda of protecting services and reducing costs."
Executive Member for Finance, Cllr Sean Anstee, said:
"Under Conservative control, Trafford has a six year history of well managed finances and tight controls to ensure our finite resources are spent appropriately and in line with resident priorities. This control and drive for efficiencies has meant that even in these tough financial times, with reduced available resources, we have been able to allocate additional money to the areas our residents have identified as high priority to them, including children's and adult services. The hallmark of these
budget proposals are savings from back office and management costs, where we continue to lead the way in identifying efficiencies from these areas. "
Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Alex Williams, said:
"We have conducted the largest debate with residents in Trafford’s history and have received literally thousands of responses including many specific suggestions for saving money which we will implement. Unlike Labour's 'slash and burn' approach in Manchester, we have focussed relentlessly on the drive for efficiency and as a result we have managed to limit the effect on front line services, invest more in supporting vulnerable people and make choices based of the priorities of our residents."
The Conservative budget proposals will be considered by scrutiny before going to full Council for final agreement on 23 February.