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.*
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.
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.
*This was updated 12 January 2022 following information about additional funding from the Draft Local Government Settlement.
Budget saving proposals for Law and Governance 2022/23
The core business of this department is to provide corporate and operational legal advice, assistance and support to the authority and its members, as well as responsibility for the co-ordination and efficient management of the decision-making processes of the Council.
The budget proposals for this area include:
PROPOSAL: Removal of Individual Member Budgets
In order to set a balanced budget for the 2021/22 budget year, the council had agreed to limit the budget to £1,000 per member with a view to the budget being reintroduced for 2022/23. However, given the current budget savings requirement that the council must meet to set a balanced budget, it is proposed that this budget now be removed altogether.
PROPOSAL: Reduction in the Number of Committees
The current re-design of the council’s committee structure will be accompanied by a re-design of the staffing requirement to support the number of meetings, members, and officers in the decision-making process.
PROPOSAL: Capitalise Salaries
This proposal will include a change to re-direct qualifying legal services salaries away from the council’s central budget to specific capital projects, which will enable a saving on net revenue costs.
This type of expenditure is not considered to be a council overhead but a direct cost necessary to achieve a project or programme of projects.
PROPOSAL: Whole Council Elections
The council is currently undertaking a statutory consultation on changing the electoral cycle to whole council elections as of 2023. Over a 4-year period, the cost of running Local Authority elections is £1,024,200. The costs of running whole council elections, with the provision of funding for the event of by-elections, would be £520,000 over the same 4-year period