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Budget Saving Proposals 2022-23: Building a sustainable future for Wirral

Wirral Council has brought forward a broad range of savings proposals to streamline council services and help bridge a gap of £27million gap in next year’s budget. 

The savings options total £20 million following the recent announcement of the draft Local Government Settlement and further funding from central Government. [This was updated 12 January 2022 following information about additional funding from the Draft Local Government Settlement.]

The council is legally obliged to set a balanced budget or risk Government intervention, and the measures being proposed are intended to put the authority on a stable footing for the long-term. 

Year after year the authority has faced major gaps in its budget between the services it has been – and sought to continue – delivering, against increasing pressures and a falling income.  

Now the time has come to accept the authority cannot continue to try to deliver the same services that it provided 10-plus year ago and cut its cloth accordingly by grasping the opportunity to re-model the council’s approach to how it delivers services. 

This moment had been coming but the council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extra financial strain it created, laid bare the serious weaknesses in the authority’s finances. Despite additional Government funding to help in the COVID-19 response the council was stretched to near breaking point, resulting in the request for Government assistance. MHCLG – now DLUHC – agreed to help the authority on condition that independent “assurance reviews” were carried out into the authority’s finances and governance.  

The publication of these reviews has been a defining moment for the authority, and their combined effect is to have identified an urgency for Wirral Council as a whole to step up and make the changes that have been put off for too many years.

The external reports highlighted the fact that decision-making has not always reflected the financial ability of the council to deliver. It is now recognised that the council needs to make fundamental changes to the way it operates and put in place a robust and future-proof financial recovery plan to address the weaknesses in the council’s approach.  

This will mean not taking short-term fixes which store up more difficult problems for the future but instead focusing on providing future-proofed and sustainable delivery of high-quality services. We must now use this opportunity to streamline what the council does to better meet the demands and needs of Wirral while also supporting our ambitions to bring major regeneration to the borough and boost the local economy.  

The following budget proposals will lay the groundwork for the council to provide fewer but much more high-quality services, all within its financial means, in future years and to allow for investment in those areas and services which will best benefit the people of Wirral.  

At present no final decisions on any of the budget proposals have been made. The next step will be for members of the council’s cross-party Policy and Resources Committee to consider these proposals before a final decision on the budget will be made by all members of the council in February. 

[updated January 20] At a meeting of the council’s cross-party Policy and Resources Committee on January 17 it was agreed to move forward with considering the tabled broad range of budget proposals. 

At present no final decisions on any of the budget proposals have been made.  

The next step will be for members of the council’s service committees to consider these proposals, and where there is a legal duty to do so, enter a period of consultation. 

Whilst those consultations continue to run, a budget 2022-23 will be proposed at the special meeting of the Budget Policy and Resources Committee on February 15. This budget will then be presented to a meeting of the full council for a final decision to be made by all members when they meet on February 28 for Budget Council. 

 

Wirral Council's budget saving proposals for 2022/23