This is what Sutton Coldfield Town Council has spent its money on

It is now two years since Sutton Coldfield residents voted to create a new council for the royal town. The council collects £1.8m every year through an additional tax on residents — the precept — but how do the councillors decide to spend that money?

As the 2018 local elections approach — the first since council representatives were elected — Birmingham Eastside looks back over the last two years to see how — and if — that money has been spent.

Most of the money in the first year went unspent…

The council received £1.8m in taxes from the precept charged to residents. It budgeted £1.5m for services in its first year — but only spent a third of that.

In the second year it continued to underspend: by the end of March 2018 the council had over £2.2m cash in the bank — only £827,000 of which was reserves ‘earmarked’ for contingencies and other specific purposes.

Where were the underspends most pronounced? The council budgeted £66,000 for Health and Wellbeing, and £20,000 for Cultural and Heritage spending in its first year, but failed to spend any money in either category.

Most other categories were significantly underspent too: only 2% of the budget for Economic Development, for example, was used — and only one budget was used in full: ‘Town in Bloom’.

Only 2% of the Play and Recreation budget was spent in 2016/17

Of the £150,000 budgeted in 2016/17 for Play and Recreation £100,000 was for ‘Play equipment in open spaces’ and £50,000 for park enhancements — only £2,500 was spent.

More money was spent in 2017/18 but the majority of funds remained unused. This time only a third of the Play and Recreation budget – now increased to £347,000 – was spent.

Notably, the budget included a £51,000 by-election contingency. Despite being specifically allocated for that purpose, the budget was not used when Councillor Louise Passey switched parties — an action which normally triggers a byelection.

"I WAS TOLD IT WAS ABOUT £55,000 TO HOLD A BY-ELECTION AND AS THIS WOULD COME OUT OF THE TOWN COUNCIL FUNDS IT IS NOT A GOOD USE OF THE MONEY."

Overheads account for £4 in every £10 spent by SCTC

£4 in every £10 spent by the council across 2016 and 2017 (no expenditure data is available for 2018) went on staffing and related costs such as office space and elections. Spending with Birmingham City Council on libraries and flowers accounted for another fifth.

By far the biggest single piece of spending was the summer CBSO concert, which alone accounted for £1.30 in every £10 expenditure declared by the council. The data does not include any income generated by the event. Ticket prices are scheduled to double for 2018’s follow up event.

Consultants, a council, and a concert — who gets the most money

The biggest slice of Sutton Coldfield’s spending goes to Birmingham City Council, which handles payroll for Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council as well as services such as libraries and flowers.

Consultants make up two of the top five: LGRC – which provided staff in the first six months of the council and has a five year HR contract with the body that includes training – and Andrew Tucker, who was paid for town planning services. None of the council’s contracts were put out to tender.

Summer concert organisers JA Productions and the CBSO are the two other biggest recipients.

Community grants — not all wards are awarding the same funding

Each ward has the same budget for community grants — £25,000 — but not all of them are spending the full amount. Only Sutton Vesey had spent the full amount as of March 2018, when its award of £2,500 to Friends of Mossy Bank put it £535 over budget.

Sutton Four Oaks has underspent the most, with over 27% of its budget left unspent by the end of the last financial year. No breakdown is available for 2016/17 when 15% of the Community Grant budget was left unspent overall.

A few organisations get most of the money

Just three organisations received 64% of Community Grant expenditure in 2016/17, while five organisations accounted for 70% of spending in the last nine months of 2017 (2018 expenditure data has not yet been released).

Performances Birmingham Ltd received the single biggest grant last year, for the Live In The Lodge music project.

Everything in one infographic

The full story can also be found in this single infographic. If we’ve missed anything please let us know.

7 Comments

  1. mike kemble

    April 29, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    FIX our roads. Yes, I know its BCCs job, but you can surely organise renewing, for example, Springfield Road, its like driving a mars rover!!!

  2. Keith Garner

    April 29, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    There should be another vote on the existence of the Council.

  3. Keith. Patrick

    April 29, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    How much money was spent on sutton magistrates court now it’s a mosque/prayer centre

    • Barry Scott

      May 3, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      It was funded by the local Muslim community, apparently. They bought it after the magistrates court closed. Ma’shallah

  4. Emily Soesan

    May 1, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    I think that the whole town council and what it doesn’t do is criminal. Nothing positive has come from my family having to pay hard earned money to create another body of people who do nothing for us and who we did not vote to have. Funding the CBSO attending Sutton Park……the tickets were phenomenonally priced and sold out immediately. How about more than one decent play area in Sutton Park as the play areas in the park now are embarrassing. Or how about give us our money back and BBC can continue to do nothing without the town council also doing nothing.

  5. Marc Browne

    May 2, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Roads are a disgrace sort it out Maney Hill Road /Church end needs resurfing

  6. Mark Larigo

    May 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I asked about funding for a Bmx / pump track to be built by wyndley skate park / rectory park. It’s a tarmaced single lane path with jumps etc in going in a loop of apx 100 / 200 meters depending on space. If your still not sure what this are check out Pye green Bmx track on face book.
    Anyways

    The councils inital reaction was to find your own budget first then we will consider it.

    Reading this makes me feel that’s there’s plenty of money sitting somewhere, that they don’t want to spend on services for people in Sutton Coldfield….

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