Could you do better?

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Swingeing Government cuts have backed Town Hall chiefs into a corner over funding - but could you do better at balancing the council’s books?

That’s the challenge Town Hall bosses have set via a new online budget simulator, which gives residents the chance to take on the thankless task of cutting funding while, at the same time, protecting vital services and limiting council tax increases.

Council chiefs have to find £13m worth of real-life cuts in time for next year’s budget.

They are already considering plans to close the Seddon Court care home on Prescot Road and several youth centres in a bid to save yet more cash.

Now in an attempt to demonstrate the scale of cuts facing council chiefs, they are encouraging residents to have a go themselves at making the books balance.

Coun Jeff Fletcher said: “I’m sure people will find the simulator of real interest. But it can only give you a general idea of the very difficult choices we have to make and the huge range of services we provide to everyone.

“The decisions we have to make will be even harder than the ones on here. But what it does do is show the impact that the scale of further cuts in Government funding will have on the people and communities of St Helens.”

The online simulator was launched on St Helens Council’s website to encourage people to have their say on spending and the services that matter to them.

It shows how the council allocates money to different areas and allows users to choose where they think 
money should be invested or cut - and the potential implications of their actions.

Residents’ views will be taken into account as part of the council’s budget-setting consultation process for 2015-16.

Although ‘You Choose’ cannot replicate the full complexity of the budget process, it shows some of the potential implications of their choices - and the tough decisions that councillors have to take.

Coun Fletcher, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate services, added: “It is not difficult to use and I would encourage as many residents as possible to take this opportunity to tell the council which services are of greatest importance to them, as well as submitting any other ideas they may have on how we make savings.

“We will look at all of these comments before we make our final decisions.”

‘You Choose’ will be available on the council website until November 30.

Find it online at:

* What do you think? Let us know your views by getting in touch via the contact details on the letters page.