Skip To Main Content

Cambridge City Council

Balanced budget agreed by city councillors

16 February 2024

CAMBRIDGE City Council councillors have approved proposals for a balanced budget, in a very challenging financial context for local government.

Councillors approved the recommendations in the General Fund Budget Setting Report (BSR), at a meeting of the Full Council yesterday (15 February).

The budget addresses the significant financial challenges the council faces from a combination of rising costs, years of reduced government funding, increased demand from Cambridge’s growing population and the legacy of the pandemic.

Public consultation on the budget priorities took place from November to January.

Cllr Simon Smith [WATCH VIDEO] Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “I am grateful to everyone who took part in our budget consultation - the responses we received have all been considered as part of our budget setting process.

“Balancing the budget is challenging because we face a combination of years of government funding cuts, rising costs and growing demand for services due to the cost of living crisis and the city’s rapid growth.

“As ever, we remain focused on supporting residents in the greatest need, delivering good growth to benefit everyone and maintaining essential, frontline services.

“We will continue to invest to achieve savings and generate income and we will not shy away from taking difficult decisions when we need to.”

The BSR includes funding for a number of initiatives including:

  • Making a once in a century investment to revive the civic quarter following the pandemic, comprising the Guildhall, Market Square and Corn Exchange. £20m of the council's reserves has been earmarked as part of the planned investments in the Guildhall, Market Square and Corn Exchange. Detailed proposals and investment cases will be brought forward during the course of the financial year;
  • Allocating £750k from reserves to support the council’s net zero objectives;
  • Investing in the waste collection service in response to the growth of the city population, including for zero-emission vehicles;
  • Funding to support retrofitting of council homes and additional funds to respond to housing pressures including bed and breakfast provision as well as top-ups to Housing Benefit for the most vulnerable;
  • Delivering efficiencies and savings of £1.5m;
  • Making a 2.99% increase to the city council’s part of the annual Council Tax bill.

The council’s General Fund Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), which was approved by councillors in November of last year, sets out the council’s overall financial strategy which underpins the budget.

The MTFS set out how the council needs to reduce revenue spending from its £73m General Fund budget by £6m per annum within the next three years and £11m per annum within five years.

To help manage these pressures the council continues to implement its transformation programme, Our Cambridge, which is creating a more modern and community-focused council delivering services through better use of technology and new ways of working.

As part of Our Cambridge, the council is working more closely with charities, businesses and other public sector organisations, to find new ways to share resources and work together, using lessons learned in recent years, including during the pandemic.

Watch a video of Cllr Smith explaining the council’s budget priorities on YouTube

Consultation on the budget proposals ran from 21 November to 14 January. People were invited to prioritise in the consultation:

    1. Improving the environmental performance of council buildings
    2. Charging commercially for the provision of advice
    3. Reviewing and merging services to improve efficiency
    4. Renting out unused council office space
    5. Modernising and streamlining operational services
    6. Supporting households most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis
    7. Reducing the city’s carbon footprint in collaboration with partners

In addition, respondents had the chance to say which current council services they valued most, and state how they think the council should balance its budget – for example through better use of digital technology, and increased collaboration with communities and other organisations.

The council’s priorities in agreeing its budget are: