More than three quarters of nearly £20m-worth of savings to be made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council were achieved in the first three months of the current financial year.
A report to city council Cabinet members highlights the authority’s strongest ‘first quarter’ financial performance for several years, as well as its ‘decisive and positive’ response to massive financial challenges facing local government.
Officers are working hard to put the city council in the “best possible position” to cope with further funding reductions, the report adds.
Councillor Paul Shotton, the city council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for commissioning, procurement and finance, said: “The scale and speed of the funding reductions we’ve seen over the last two years are unprecedented. We’ve had to take some very tough decisions in the best interests of the city, its residents and our local economy.
“The need to save £19.6m on top of the £35.6m savings we achieved last year is a huge challenge. It’s clear that we’ve made significant headway even at this very early stage in the financial year, but there’s still huge uncertainty about how much money will be available to us in the future.
“We have a very strong track record of operating to budget. Although we are currently being cautious in our forecasts, we are confident that the projected overspend of £3.8m will be proactively managed, both financially and operationally, and it will reduce.”
The financial performance report, which will be considered by Cabinet members when they next meet on 30 August, says that the council’s planned investments in the city for 2012/13 will be delivered largely as planned.
Added Councillor Shotton: “Despite the very difficult financial challenges, we’re determined to make Stoke-on-Trent the place to bring and develop business, as well as a great place to live. Our forecast capital investment of £208m for this year is the highest ever, and underpins all of the key aspirations of our Mandate for Change.
“Already this year, a number of our schools have had major refurbishments and the city centre’s new bus station is taking shape. The continuing development of the CoRE training centre in Longton is yet another example of the growing interest and confidence being shown towards the city.
“Another key success is nearly £5m of Government money secured in partnership with the county council for the local transportation plan.”