Knowsley Council’s Cabinet has drawn up proposals to balance its budget over the next two years by investing £17m in key service areas and making savings of almost £30m.
The council recently announced that it needed to make £37m of savings over the next three years in view of the Government’s substantial and unprecedented cuts to local government funding. Initial estimates were that this could result in the deletion of hundreds of jobs, some of which would result in compulsory redundancies.
Even before looking at this year’s budget, the council had had to make savings of £31m and reduce its workforce by 845 posts - equivalent to a 19% reduction in staffing.
The latest proposals would see around 340 jobs lost over the next three years, but most of these would not be lost until 2014 at the earliest and the Authority hopes to manage as many of them as possible through voluntary measures.
The Cabinet’s budget proposals will be debated at a meeting on 13 February 2013 and include a range of savings and changes to Council services. However, they also provide for investment in some key service areas, particularly focused on helping business, supporting local residents in accessing housing, and raising attainment in the Borough’s secondary schools.
Cllr Ron Round, Leader of Knowsley Council, commented, “These cuts have been forced on us by the national government. And, even after setting this budget, we will still need to find more savings in future years.
Despite the huge challenges we face, we are looking to the future and we have done an excellent job of balancing the need to invest in services to improve our Borough against the need to make tough decisions and prioritise the things which are really important to our residents.
In particular, we will be investing millions of pounds to create jobs, attract businesses, increase educational attainment and make Knowsley a place where families can thrive. I am really proud that we are able to do this at a time when the national Government’s policies would otherwise be ruining people’s lives.”
Councillor Norman Keats, the Authority’s Cabinet Member for Finance, added, “Despite being one of the most deprived areas in the country, we are in the top three hardest hit councils in terms of funding cuts. We have lost £229 per person over the last two years compared to an average cut across England of just £91.
In that context, we have done our utmost to protect our most essential services. Where service reductions are being proposed, they are being made with care and with a view to protecting our residents as far as possible. However, with this level of unprecedented national funding cuts, there is no escaping the fact that we will have to reduce some services in some areas.
We will still make sure that we deliver on our pledges to support residents into jobs, housing, improve educational attainment, provide opportunities for social businesses and ensure our residents have access to afford credit and financial advice.”