Cash strapped Wirral Council launches budget consultation for 2020/21

Wirral Council has launched a consultation to seek the public’s views on a range of options to help Wirral Council balance its budget.

Like all local authorities Wirral Council has a legal obligation to set a balanced budget for the next financial year.

As part of this process a set of budget proposals must be developed and recommendations on a way forward proposed to a meeting of the full council, which takes place in March 2021.

Current figures indicate that the council needs to make savings of around £40 million next year, in 2021/22 to balance its budget, however the Council has asked for permission from the Government to borrow around £23.5m to help offset its Covid-19 costs.  This leaves £16.5m that the Council will have to find to offset its general increased costs in 2021/22.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

The current budget situation is largely a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has prevented the council from implementing the savings which were agreed in March. The Government has provided some financial aid to help with the additional costs of supporting the borough’s communities during the pandemic, but it has not covered all of the financial impact. In addition there has been a significant loss of income to the council as a result of the lockdown and restrictions during the last nine months.

Over the last several months the council has been reviewing all the services it delivers. Some services are statutory – this means the council is legally obliged to provide them – while others are non-statutory but are provided because it is believed they are valuable to the local community.

However, because of the budget gap the council has to find ways to cut costs and where possible raise additional income. This means over the coming months we will be faced with options we would not otherwise choose to consider in order to ensure the council remains sustainable into the future.

No decisions have been made yet about which options will be taken forward.

At its meeting on Friday December 18, Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee agreed to consult the public on the options for savings and generating extra income being put forward.

Council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, said, “We are committed to ensuring this council has a sustainable budget and is focused on delivering the services the people of the borough need.

“The last year has been incredibly difficult but has shown how important this council is to the residents and businesses in Wirral. But now, as we look to the future, we must look at how the council can continue to provide vital frontline services that so many depend upon, particularly in times of crisis such as Covid.

“Some of these decisions will be incredibly difficult and we want everyone to be able to have their say on the options being put forward, so please use this opportunity to tell us your views of these options and if you have ideas on how the council can save money or raise additional income, let us know.”

The full survey is available at haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/

Details of further budget consultation events in January will be announced in due course.

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