Soaring inflation and national economic pressures have seriously impacted Wirral Council’s budget setting for 2023-24.
Like other councils across the country, Wirral is seeing the costs of providing services increase at the same time as demands for those council services are also rising.
Initially working with a potential £49m gap, the latest forecast, based on the outcome of the Autumn Statement and refinement of assumptions, means that the council still needs to find savings of up to £38 million in order to set a legal budget.
However, this is an estimate based on current information and the ever-moving financial landscape. It will be affected by the announcement of the Provisional Finance Settlement 2023/24 which sets out the Government’s approach to Local Government funding in the year ahead; this is expected on 19 December 2022 but will not be finalised until January 2023.
It is a legal requirement for the council to set a balanced budget, and it is against these financial challenges and the broader national economic backdrop that the authority seeks to remain financially sustainable for the future. This includes having to make some difficult decisions while also making sure residents get the support they need when they need it.
A large number of budget-saving options are currently being looked at and details of them all will be made available in the New Year. However, there are some service areas we are keen to consult on earlier to ensure resident views can be considered as we bring forward the final budget proposal in the New Year. These include street cleaning and maintenance in parks, as well as proposed changes to library and leisure services.
The Council is also using an online Budget Simulator to establish what areas of council services people would want to see prioritised. The tool breaks down the council budget into broad council services and puts residents temporarily in the shoes of the decision-makers, having to balance trade-offs and considering constraints and the actual costs (and savings) of services.
You can find out more about the council budget simulator and answer the questionnaire at the council’s budget HaveYouSay page – https://haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/hub-page/budget-2023-24