Council faces £60m budget bombshell

St Helens town hall and Victoria Square
St Helens town hall and Victoria Square
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TOWN Hall chiefs admit nearly all council services are “under review” after further government cuts left them needing to save an extra £60m from the budget.

A string of key money saving decisions are set to be made in a cabinet meeting at St Helens Town Hall next week.

It is unclear at this stage what impact the cuts will have on jobs but, in neighbouring Knowsley, council chiefs have already outlined the need to cut 340 jobs in the next two years.

To emphasise the level of the cuts so far, St Helens Council leader Marie Rimmer said the cuts to the authority’s budget in the last three years had already been the deepest in living memory.

She said: “In an effort to balance the books the council is now having to prioritise front line services for vulnerable people.

“Nearly all council services are under review to see where savings can be found. To make sure those most in need receive key services we are having to relook at what we do provide and to who.”

One of the first things likely to be hit has already been announced - the borough’s community library services.

Council bosses are already in consultation over proposals to target community library services

Under the plans, only housebound people who are unable to visit a library because of a disability or medical condition will continue to benefit from the service.

The service to people in residential and sheltered accomodation is set to be removed.

A host of further cuts are expected to be revealed over the coming weeks.

In Knowsley, council chiefs say the equivalent of 340 full time jobs will have to be lost in the next two years because of the “unprecedented” funding cuts.

Over the next three years, Knowsley faces a further budget shortfall of up to £37m.

Council leader Ron Round said: “Unfortunately, the sheer size of the cuts coming our way means that we have to look at further reducing our staffing costs, which make up a sizeable proportion of our budget.

“Whilst we have been able to reduce job numbers significantly over the last few years through mainly voluntary means, we estimate that a further 340 full-time equivalent jobs will need to be lost in order to achieve the savings.”