Trafford Council’s leading Labour politician has pledged to invest millions in the borough’s schools, roads, towns, leisure centres and social care as part of the budget with the aim of making Trafford a better place to live, work and relax.
The budget also included increased spending on its key aims of raising people out of poverty, tackling health inequalities, and addressing the climate crisis.
The investments are part of an overall revenue budget spend of £209.3m in Trafford and an £92m capital investment programme.
School funding is boosted by a further £14m to help meet extra needs.
The budget also includes a further £8.8m for social care and £11.8m for highways.
There is £13.6m to continue the Council’s town centre regeneration plans.
The Council’s priority to reduce health inequalities is also being boosted by £16.3m to continue the modernisation of leisure centres, and an extra £500,000 for the borough’s parks and green spaces.
Council leader, Cllr Tom Ross, Executive Member for Finance and Governance, said: “This budget process has been a very challenging one to bridge, as we continue to live in times of economic uncertainty and national, indeed global, political instability.
“We’re a country, and a borough, recovering from a pandemic that has left many exhausted and has placed extreme pressure on our public services and the people that provide them, day in, day out.
“In a country where we’re so often let down by politicians on the national stage, but I know we all want to do our best to prove that not all politicians are the same.
“I believe this budget demonstrates that we are different, we can take difficult decisions, and work together to ensure we do our best by our residents whilst providing the most support we can to our frontline services.
“I’m proud of the contributions so many people have made to this budget process, and I am confident that we have done the best we can for our residents.”
However, Cllr Ross also branded years of austerity a scandal as he delivered this year’s budget which included plugging a financial black hole of almost £25m.
Cllr Ross, voiced his frustration about how the authority has borne the brunt of cuts over more than a decade while, at the same time, being the lowest funded authority within the Greater Manchester conurbation – and the fourth lowest across all metropolitan boroughs.
That cumulative budget gap since 2010 now stands at almost £290m for Trafford.
The authority recently joined the F20 – this is a cross party group of councils fighting for the funding floor to be set at 90pc of our average core spending power to level up local government finance in the lowest funded authorities. If agreed, Trafford would receive an additional £5.7m each year.
“On top of this, councils up and down the country are having to respond to growth in demand for adults and children’s social care in addition to inflationary pressures,” argued Cllr Ross.
“And like other authorities, we have been forced to follow the government’s own assumptions regarding the increase in council tax, however, if we chose to not to pursue this funding avenue, we would need to find an extra £5.69m worth of savings, which would significantly impact our frontline services.
“We also have to manage the reserves very carefully, and our budget papers clearly state that any further use of reserves, beyond those committed, is not recommended.”
Cllr Ross continued: “The journey towards setting a balanced budget can be long, complex and at times a frustrating experience.
“However, we’re fortunate to have highly skilled finance officers, and a wider Corporate Leadership team with vast experience. We’re also fortunate to have a strong scrutiny function to provide that important challenge and to have leading Labour councillors who understand the challenges of local government finance.
“This budget helps set up Trafford for a bright and exciting future – and I’m extremely proud of the part we’ve all played to deliver it.”