Have your say on town hall budget

St Helens Council is running a budget consultation
St Helens Council is running a budget consultation

Council bosses are asking for St Helens residents to speak up on which services are most important to them.

As the local authority is facing unprecedented financial pressures down to continued spending reductions, officers are running a consultation on next year’s budget.

Since 2010, the council has had to absorb a 60 per cent reduction in its revenue support grant. This equates to a reduction in service spend of over £980 per household in the borough, and means that the council has had to identify savings of £74m to date.

Further reductions in government grant funding are assured for the next three years and by 2020 the council will be solely reliant on locally raised revenue in order to fund the delivery of vital local services.

The council is currently forecasting that it will be required to save £20.6m between 2017 and 2020, with £7.8m to be found over the course of 2016/2017.

In the last six years, the town hall has delivered savings and efficiencies of £74m, whilst continuing to provide a full range of services and limit the impact on local people.

But now is the time when, once again, the local authority will be looking to local people, seeking their views on the council’s finances and the shaping of services using the online ‘You Choose’ budget simulator, bosses have said.

The simulator challenges residents to take on the difficult task of cutting the expected £7.8m from the 2016/2017 budget, keeping it balanced while continuing to protect critical services.

Council Leader Coun Barrie Grunewald said: “There is no doubt that we will have to continue do more with less in the future and tough choices still lie ahead. I hope that our budget simulator will again prove of interest and is able to provide some understanding of the impact of government cuts and the complexity of the decisions we face.

“However, as one of the most stable, well run and ambitious councils in the country, I am positive that we will go beyond just delivering a balanced budget and take forward a programme of transformation that secures the successful future of the council and the borough.

“Consultation via ‘You Choose’ will be open until the beginning of February and I would encourage all interested to be part of the process, to try the simulator and provide their views.”

The You Choose simulator can be found at www.sthelens.gov.uk/budgetsimulator