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latest update 12 March 2010

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Wirral council faces £20m savings challenge to avoid cash crisis

Liverpool Daily Post

WIRRAL Council will have to make savings of more than £20m a year over the next three years to avert a massive budget deficit.

Council leader Steve Foulkes said that, although the current financial year is on target to be balanced, future years look tough for the borough.

A report to the ruling cabinet, which meets on Thursday, says the authority faces shortfalls in its budget of £76.5m between 2011 and 2014.

Even with council tax increases at around 4% – increases over 5% are likely to be capped by the Government – this leaves shortfalls of £23.1m, £20m and £21m, over this period.

Even this coming year, 2010-11, the council faces a shortfall of £13.6m and, even with a 5.2% council tax increase next year, has to find “efficiency savings” of £8.4m.

Cllr Foulkes said: “Others have been trying to not face it by saying we do not need to make difficult decisions.

“This year is the last year in the current three-year cycle and we have coped well, but it’s the duty of any politician with backbone to deal with the predictions that there will be severe public spending cuts whichever party wins the next General Election.

“We expect local government will have to take some of the share of that.

“We need to take decisions now, while we have some manoeuvrability for the benefit of the council tax payers.

“This year, the budget is on target.

“But we would be in a better position if we had not had to backtrack, but that has not been in our hands.”

Wirral Council’s director of finance, Ian Coleman, recommended that the authority maintains a review of budget projections “as the global recession develops”.

In his report on next year’s budget, Mr Coleman warned of reductions in the cash handed to councils by the Government.

He said: “In his Budget speech on April 22, 2009, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the main grant for 2010-11 would not be reduced, but there will be reductions from 2011-12.”

Mr Coleman said: “The gap between projected expenditure and anticipated resources will need to be bridged by a combination of savings and/or increased council tax.”


© copyright Wirral News. Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

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