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Council using less reserves to balance the budget

Borough of Poole reduced its use of reserves to balance the budget for council services in 2016/17.

The council’s use of financial planning reserves to support the annual budget for local services in 2016/17 was limited to £3.5 million, compared to the previously assumed forecast of £4.5 million for the year.
By 2019/20, Poole will receive no government funding and rely solely on money raised locally to pay for services. The council has a clear ambition through its Poole2020 financial strategy to deliver sustainable budgets that rely less on the use of reserves. This year, the council plans to spend only £800,000 of reserves to balance the budget. 

Cllr May Haines, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, Borough of Poole, said: “Increasing demands on our social care budgets means the council is facing an increasing financial challenge as it prepares for the withdrawal of all government funding. We are making responsible use of reserves in the short term to protect frontline services while we put in place the necessary measures to deliver services within a sustainable budget.
“The reduced use of reserves is welcome. However, the fact that we still have to use our reserves to balance the budget shows the council is continuing to live beyond its means.
 
“Relying on reserves to maintain services is not sustainable or responsible in the long term. Without putting plans in place to reduce costs and increase income, the council would be gambling with the future of people who rely on our services.”
 
Cabinet members received the council budget monitoring report for 2016/17 at a meeting on Tuesday 13 June. They also received the findings of a recent peer review by the Local Government Association which highlighted the council’s ‘good track record of financial planning and control’.
 
Reductions in government funding and increased demand for services mean the council must make savings and efficiencies of more than £23 million between 2017 and 2020.
 
The council has already identified £17 million of savings but must reduce its budget by a further £6.1 million a year by April 2019.