Have your say on the council budget for the next three-years
As residents and businesses weather increasing financial pressures, so too does St Helens Borough Council which has launched a public consultation on its budget for 2024 - 2027.
Article date: 10 November 2023
Between Friday 10 November and Monday 11th December local people will be invited to share their views about the proposed 3-year budget and where council spending should be prioritised, via a short online survey, considering the impact on themselves and their families but also the needs of the wider community.
The consultation sets the priorities of the Council, proposed budgets for services, the proposed Council Tax increase and a range of options that could help deliver the proposed balanced budget over the next three years, helping to protect vital public services.
The cost-of-living situation has had a huge impact on thousands of households reducing their ability to pay for accommodation, food and council tax. Many of those in need have turned to the council for extra support which is being offered where possible. But just like residents and businesses the council has also been hit hard by the rising costs. Like many other businesses wage inflation, material, fuel and energy costs have added extra pressure to the budget. In addition, the costs to place adults and children in care have spiralled.
All this comes alongside the significant uncertainty of Central Government funding, which has since 2010 continued to fall year on year, a loss of £116 million so far, meaning the council has become increasingly dependent on local revenues such as Council Tax and business rates.
Councillor Martin Bond, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said:
"Our desire and ability to maintain and protect the hundreds of services that residents rely on has been significantly challenged by the lasting impact of the pandemic, the highest level of inflation in 40 years, fuel and energy prices, destabilised by the continuing cost-of-living crisis, and gutted by the loss of £116m in Government grants since 2010.
"Government policy mean that we must increasingly rely on the money we can generate through Council Tax and business rates, which now make up 51 and 43 per cent of our income respectively. While at the same time we are seeing more and more demand, particularly among hugely costly adult social care and children's services.
"Prudent financial management has left us in a better position than many other councils, but we still face an estimated funding gap at this stage of £13m over the next three years, having already made savings of £80m in the last decade. So, with limited options and none of them easy or harmless, it's vital that we hear from you about where our spending should be prioritised."
The budget consultation launches on Friday 10 November and ends on Monday 11 December with the consultation available online at www.sthelens.gov.uk/budgetconsultation