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Friday, 19 September 2014

Carlisle council’s budget plan ‘to boost local economy’

A budget for Carlisle during the next financial year has been provisionally approved.

Les Tickner photo
Les Tickner

Members of Carlisle City Council’s Executive backed the budget with final approval expected at next month’s meeting of the full council.

The final draft proposal was compiled following a period of consultation with groups including trades unions and local employers, as well as a higher than expected settlement grant from the Government.

The budget was introduced by Councillor Les Tickner, who said the new administration aimed to deliver a budget that enabled the council to deliver on six promised priorities, including more affordable housing.

But he warned that the council was facing challenges and added: “Central government is failing to put in place measures to encourage growth. We believe this a positive budget for Carlisle.”

He said that the budget included a number of proposals including:

  • Paying contracted staff at a level at least equivalent to the living wage;
  • Tackling homelessness – an issue which had been identified as a problem for the city;
  • Treasury management – an area where council officers have taken advice and taken the appropriate action.

Dr Tickner said that, as a result of the recession, the authority was getting a poor return – less than one per cent – on its capital investments.

“We are doing what we can to make our capital work for us,” he said.

The report also identified areas where savings would be made – the council needs to make a 20 per cent reduction over the coming year.

Dr Tickner said that so far the council had tried to make the resulting savings have as little affect as possible on staff.

He added: “It’s easy to identify savings, making them work is a different matter. We have a difficult job to do. It’s our intention to do that and not shirk our responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, Joe Hendry, the council leader, said the budget strategy would:

  • Support the ‘hard working’ people of Carlisle – both those in work and those desperate to find work;
  • Boost the local economy;
  • Use financial resources effectively by investing in the community and making those resources work for Carlisle.

He added: “The council has frozen council tax and is paying employees a living wage – despite a 10 per cent funding cut imposed by Government.”

He moved that the budget was agreed and the proposal was seconded by Dr Tickner.

Members agreed with the proposal and the final decision will be taken by full council which meets on Tuesday, February 5.

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