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St Helens Council, like other councils across the country, continues to face challenges in providing good quality services under significant financial constraints.
For the year 2020/21 we need to find a further £5 million worth of savings.
What we spend is under pressure due to a combination of cuts of £90m to our grant from Government over the last 10 years and increasing demand for our adult and children’s social care. This means we have some tough decisions to make.
Our priority has always been to protect frontline services, so we’ve tried to address this challenge by, among other things, looking at all our services to see what we can do more efficiently and effectively, whilst minimising the impact on the most vulnerable in our borough.
At a Council meeting in March, Councillors will be asked to consider proposals to increase Council Tax by up to 1.99% and apply an adult social care precept of 2%. For approximately 80% of residents it will mean less than an additional £1 a week.
Increasing Council Tax is not an easy decision, but it will help to fund vital services. The increase will raise an extra £3m.
We’ve got some tough decisions to make – the choice of either potentially increasing Council Tax by 3.99%, or reduce spending on services by a further £3m on top of the £5m in order to balance the budget for 2020/21.
The budget setting process passes through a number of stages, and the reports detailing the approval process are shown under Useful Links. The budget reprts detail how portfolios plan to address key challenges and deliver the Council's stated priorities.
The Spending Round 2019 announced by Government in September 2019 was a one-year spending review for 2020/21. In line with this, the Council is setting a budget for 2020/21.
The budget for 2020/21 was refreshed following the Local Government Finance Settlement and will be considered by Cabinet on 26th February 2020 and by full Council on 4th March 2020.
The views of local people and key stakeholders are an integral part of the budget setting process.
The Council ran a Budget Consultation exercise, in relation to the Budget for 2020/21, that ran from 17th January to 12th February 2020, providing information in relation to the budget challenge that the Council faces. The Budget Challenge information can be found under Related Documents. The exercise allowed residents to have their say on Council Tax proposals and which services are priorities to them.
Summary reports in relation to the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Budget Consultation exercises can be found under Related Documents.
The Budget Consultation for 2020/21 is now closed and the results of the consultation will be published shortly under Related Documents.
Following consultation with the public and key stakeholders the proposed budget is approved by Members at the end of February/beginning of March.
Every year the Council publishes a Budget Book setting out the agreed budget for the forthcoming financial year.
This document can be found under Related Documents.
The Council has produced an Efficiency Plan 2016, which brings together a number of important existing strategies including the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Council's Delivery Plan. Its aim is to demonstrate that despite some significant challenges, the Council has a clear approach to delivering its future savings programme and its organisational and community ambitions.