Savings options, which will again see Sefton Council having to significantly reduce its budget, will be considered this week.
A report to the Council’s Cabinet has been published showing options which could be implemented to try to meet reductions in Government funding, inflation and the extra cost of supporting the high number of older people living in the borough.
The Council must find an additional £43.7 million, on top of the £64 million already saved, over the next two years. That total of £107 million represents around a 40% reduction in the council’s net budget since 2010.
Although the council has so far managed to protect vulnerable residents from the reduced spending, the cuts are now so significant that a number of difficult decisions may have to be taken in order to achieve a balanced budget.
Although the Government will not announce its official grant offer to the council until December, planning for the level of reduced spending has been made on the best available information.
The report, to be discussed on Thursday, September 13, will outline a number of savings options which total around £26 million towards the target. The options have been developed by council officers over a period of months.
They remain just options until Cabinet Members have had the chance to discuss them and decide which should go forward for implementation or consultation. Further work is also ongoing to identify further options for councillors to consider in the coming months.
No final decisions have yet been made around major service change, and these will not be taken until early next year at a meeting of the Full Council. This will allow time for applicable options to be subject to full consultation with the public, businesses, partners and staff so that councillors will have as much information as possible when they make their final decisions.
Some options, which do not require full consultation, may be progressed this year – again following consideration by the Full Council.
Where possible the council will aim to “cushion” the impact of reduced spending for the “most vulnerable” residents in the borough although some services will have to change for both children and older people.
The situation is made even more difficult in Sefton compared to many local authorities because of the high number of older people living in the borough – particularly those over the age of 80.
Sefton Council will launch its consultation exercise towards the end of September allowing views to be gathered to help inform the budgeting process as it moves forward.
Cllr Peter Dowd, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “People need to be under no illusion that the depth of the cuts we are required to make, on top of everything else, are very significant indeed. Since 2010 our net budget will have reduced by around 40% by the end of this process.
“We are not able to offer the level or breadth of services that we have in the past and a number of things that people value in their community will have to change, reduce or sadly be stopped.
“We are determined to continue our open and transparent approach to budget reduction; as consultation is the right thing to do when faced with such change.
“A further £43.7 million is a massive amount of money to find out of a net budget of around £236 million. It is clear that things will have to change but we are trying to do this in the fairest possible way. The trade unions and staff will continue to be involved and informed throughout the process.
“It is important for everyone to understand at this stage that the list of options are, exactly that, options – no decisions have yet been made and we will listen to all of the views before we arrive at that stage.
“But with such a large portion of savings to add to what we have already had to cut in recent years will be very, very difficult.”
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