Council facing £40m cuts

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  • Council could face cuts of £40m over the next five years
  • Local authority will change radically to deal with less cash
  • Town hall bosses will have to find £23m of savings over the next two years

Senior councillors in St Helens have been told the authority’s services will have to be drastically changed in the face of expected budget cuts of £40m over the next five years.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald told Wednesday’s cabinet meeting the council would be radically different in 2020 as it continued to grapple with swingeing government cuts.

Unfortunately the sort of discretionary activity that we’ve been able to provide up to now will become unsustainable and we will have to re-think our whole approach – focusing on the provision of services to those who need them most

Council leader Barrie Grunewald

And he said residents would have a very different council five years from now and that the town hall was already being told to find saving of £23m over the next two years.

Coun Grunewald said: “By 2020 we expect that we will have had to make savings of £40 million. It means our funding will have been

more than halved since 2010.

“The next round of savings will see £23 million taken away from us over the next two years.

“The election result was, unfortunately, a mandate for more of the same. Local government will not be protected and it’s going to be a very different future – both for us and many of our residents.”

Council chiefs are proposing to make up the shortfall between funding and service levels by commissioning services from third parties, including charities and residents’ groups.

The council also wants to start exploring ways of making more of revenue generating opportunities.

However, council bosses say priority services, including children and young people, environment protection, adult care and health, public health and economic growth, will continue to be protected.

“A huge cultural change is going to have to take place,” said Coun Grunewald. “We are going to have to build on our reputation as an adaptive and innovative borough and take it a stage further.

“Unfortunately the sort of discretionary activity that we’ve been able to provide up to now will become unsustainable and we will have to re-think

our whole approach – focusing on the provision of services to those who need them most.”