Councils braced for tough cuts decisions

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Liverpool Executive Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Both Liverpool City Council and Wirral Borough Council are preparing to make yet more major public spending cuts as a result of huge reductions in budgets.

Liverpool City Council has to save £32 million in the 2013-14 period, adding to the £141 million that has already been cut in the last two years.

Over the next four years the council will have to reduce its outgoings by nearly a third. Wirral Borough Council has been equally hard, losing £100 million of its £300 million financing over the next three years.

Liverpool’s Executive Mayor Joe Anderson has put together a Budget Working Group to discuss where best to make the cuts in Liverpool, calling it a “huge challenge for the city.”

Mayor Anderson said in a message to residents and staff: “It is going to be extremely difficult. We have a spend of £480million, then we are going to have to take out of that £143million.”

He continued: “That is going to cause immense problems to how we are able to deliver services within the city.

“We are going to do it, however, based on the principle of trying to protect as much of the services we provide to vulnerable people, as much as we can, in the same way we did last year and the year before.”

The Mayor urged people to remember that everyone will be affected by these changes, in cuts that he said would be “painful for the city.”

Mayor Anderson also said: “I’m glad to say we’ve now had a positive and constructive dialogue with the leaders of the opposition parties of the council and we are going to be working together to try and solve the budget problems that we now face.”

Wirral Borough Council last month embarked on their ‘What Really Matters’ campaign, where councillors and staff have taken to the streets to ask Wirral residents where they believe the savings should be made.

The project is the largest consultation with the public that the Council has ever undertaken, measuring people’s highest and lowest priorities for public spending.

The questionnaires also ask people to consider whether some services should be outsourced to save money in the long term.

The council has spoken to 11,000 people directly since the start of the campaign at events in local supermarkets and community centres across the borough, along with distributing 40,000 questionnaires.

With two weeks until the end of the £25,000 project, Wirral Borough Council is hoping that even more people can have their say.

Council Leader Cllr Phil Davies said: “The scale of the savings we are being forced to make is greater than anything we have faced before.

Wirral Borough Council headquarters at Wallasey Town Hall (c) Calotype46/CreativeCommons/Flickr

“I cannot stress enough how important it is that people get involved in this process. We have no choice but to become a different Council and this is going to mean radical and rapid change.”

Cllr Davies added: “We need to know what services matter the most to people and their families so that we can make sure that we spend our reduced budget on the right things.”

Wirral Borough Council says the results will be used to develop specific options for achieving the savings that the authority has to make and that further consultation will then take place to gather views on these options before final decisions are made on how the savings will be found.

The ‘What Really Matters’ campaign ends on Friday 19th October. Liverpool City Council says that the first set of savings will be discussed at the Mayoral Select Committee on Wednesday 24 October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism