Latest News | 14 February 2023

Partnerships the key as council outlines budget plans

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Derby City Council has called on the business community to continue to work with it after outlining its budget proposals to Marketing Derby Bondholders.

At a Talking Business Live session held online and attended by 40 people, the city council shared details of its budget plans for 2023-24.

The session was held as part of a public consultation, which began back in December.

Like councils across the country, Derby is faced with setting a balanced budget in the face of a ‘perfect storm’ of rising costs, abnormally high inflation rates and increasing demand, particularly in social care.

The session heard that while the council is considering a reduction in some services, including changes in the way they are delivered, it is seeking to mitigate the impact by working with its partners across the city.

The session began with Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, giving an overview of the local economic landscape, looking back on 2022 by drawing on data from the chamber’s Quarterly Economic Surveys.

He outlined how the aftermath of Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine had impacted on business performance and confidence.

He said: “In terms of sales, for a good percentage, things stayed the same – but in certain sectors some companies saw both a decline in sales and future order books, with some export markets declining and yet to recover. This is not just something that is happening in the East Midlands, it’s a national issue.

“Towards the end of 2022, businesses reported a number of concerns – with inflation a primary concern and business rates remaining a challenge.”

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, explained to the session that while it was facing a “perfect storm” of cost pressures, there were “positives on the way”, with major schemes likes Castleward, the Derbion masterplan, the Nightingale Quarter, the University of Derby’s city campus and more, either taking place or in the pipeline, to boost Derby’s regeneration.

He said: “Our ambition for the city centre is not going to stop. But we may need to review things and seek more partnership involvement.

“We would like the continued support of Bondholders and investors.”

During the session, Simon Riley, strategic director of corporate resources at the city council, outlined the need to make “unprecedented savings” in a short space of time this year, due to economic factors beyond its control.

He said: “After an incredibly tough year, we haven’t taken our eye off the ball – supporting projects such as SmartParc and Infinity Park, which are levering in investments.

“We have not had to stop any of our capital programmes – and we need to continue to create an environment where confidence remains.

“We would like to see businesses work with us to come up with the solutions and work together as ‘Team Derby’, tackling this as a city issue, not a council issue.”

The final budget will be put to a full council meeting later this month.

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