Continuing strong finances will help Southend City Council provide additional support for most vulnerable
Originally published by Liberal Democrats - Working For You Across Southend
Strong financial management by the council is set to deliver a predicted underspend for 2021/22, with £6m also being added into reserves.
This will help to prepare for a financially challenging year for the council and local community.
The council's 2021/22 finances will be discussed by the cabinet next week (Item 4, Cabinet, 14 June), along with the unprecedented challenges that the council and residents are facing, with the impacts of inflation and rising energy and fuel costs already starting to have a local impact. This sound financial management is allowing the council to put a further £2m towards the cost of living crisis in 2022/23 - £1m to provide additional support for our most vulnerable residents on top of what is already available through Government and council schemes such as the essential living fund, plus £1m to help the council with additional inflationary pressures that it will face this year.
Cllr Paul Collins, cabinet member for asset management and inward investment said: "Despite huge challenges over the last two years, both nationally and locally, the council has managed its finances sensibly and prudently, and I am pleased that we can report a small underspend for 2021/22, together with topping up our reserves position. Considering the financial difficulties all local councils face, this is no mean feat and is critical to providing a foundation to tackle the unprecedented inflationary pressures that the council and residents are already experiencing and ensuring that the council remains financially sustainable in the future. We face some hard times and difficult choices ahead with inflation currently rising towards 10% and energy and fuel rises affecting local residents, businesses and the council too. Thanks to our sound management, we have been able to put aside £2m more to help with cost of living pressures, supporting our most vulnerable residents and the inflationary challenges we face as a council too."
The report also highlights the scale of the pandemic response administered by the council, with huge increases in the volume of applications for support being submitted from local businesses and residents in the last two years, a rise of over 400%.
Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council, says: "This report highlights the strong financial management and performance of the council throughout the pandemic where officers have had to administer 72,000 extra applications for support over the last two years which has often involved checking eligibility and interpreting complex and changing guidance, whilst trying to keep residents safe and supported. I want to thank them all for that hard work that has helped to support local businesses and the local community."