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How do you think council should cut £50m from budget?

Published date: 30 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
Read more articles by Staff reporter


PROPOSALS have been announced to save nearly   £50million from the council’s budget.


An initial document outlining Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) budget plans to save £49m in over three years has been released.
 

The consultation outlines the council’s initial ideas to save £49m, or 20 per cent of the entire council budget, over the next three years to deal with the Government’s austerity measures.
Council leader Mike Jones said CWaC had already identified savings totalling £113m with £44m of that reinvested back into vital services, leaving a net saving to local tax payers of £69m.
 

Cllr Jones said: “Since 2010 the Government’s priority to tackle the national budget deficit has had a significant impact upon local government and driven the need for the council to not only make direct savings, but also explore new and innovative ways of delivering services to residents that meet with their aspirations and needs.
 

“Many local authorities across the country may take the view that cutting your services is their only response to this challenge.
“This has never been the approach in Cheshire West and Chester and our track record has shown it is possible to reduce costs while securing what matters to local people by reducing waste, bureaucracy and inefficient practice.”
Almost all areas of the council budget could be hit by the proposed cuts with Children and Young People’s Services saving about £6m through various means including staff restructuring, an estimated increase in foster carers and a review of school transport - with about £2.5m of the savings being reinvested into meeting the care needs of vulnerable children in care.
 

The culture and innovation budgets will also be slashed by about £5.9m, with £3.4m of that coming from staff restructuring and the rest of the savings including a reduction in leisure operating costs from newly-built leisure facilities, reduction in use of third party sports providers and increasing income from museums.
The localities budget has been reduced by £4.8m and will see a review of library services, refocusing of community safety wardens and a reduction of real time CCTV monitoring.
 

A total of £6.5m will be cut from the resources budget which will include back office restructuring and reviewing what is spent on insurance.
Finally the strategic commissioning budget will save £10m over the three years through staff restructuring, exploring alternatives to adult user transport and developing extra housing care. There will also be £5.6m of additional funding in this area from the Government to help with integrating health and social care and the council will reinvest about £6m into meeting increasing demand for older people’s services and learning disability services and meeting the requirements of the Care Bill which was come into force in April 2015.
 

The council is now asking for feedback from the public to help inform final decisions on the budget and council tax which will be decided at the full council meeting on March 3, 2014.
 

The closing date for feedback is February 9, 2014 which will enable all feedback to be shared with Elected Members before the budget and council tax are set.
The consultation on the budget can be found here: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/budgetconsultation


LABOUR councillors have blasted the council saying the timing of the release of a budget document outlining £49million of cuts from Council services is “cynical” and “buried in the run-up to Christmas”.
Details of the Tories' proposed three year budget were given to councillors and public at 5pm the night before Christmas Eve.
Labour Leader Cllr Justin Madders said it was an attempt to “pull the wool over people’s eyes” by the ruling Tories. He said: "This Tory Council has plumbed new depths. To attempt to 'bury' a matter of this significance at a time when most people are preparing for Christmas is cynical in the extreme.
“There has been absolutely no scrutiny of these proposals prior to their release. Members of Council gathered only a few days ago but no opportunity was taken to share this information with us. Do they think we aren’t watching what they’re up to?
“I want to know who took the decision to begin this consultation at such a bad time. Who is going to put their hands up to authorising such a cynical move?”
Cllr Madders said he was “appalled” by the move when the budget cuts could effect services and mean people lose their jobs.
He continued: "David Cameron's Government has dealt out swingeing cuts to councils up and down the country and the Cheshire West Labour Group recognises how difficult this budget will be. Indeed we offered to help the Tories with these difficult decisions but they refused our offer to help.
“This budget means cuts of £49m. Services will be affected, people will lose their jobs and the Council will not continue as it is. This consultation paper provides a lot of big numbers but no detail about what this means in practice.
"This Tory Council is trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and their cynicism is breathtaking. They do not deserve to hold power when they abuse it in this way.”
The consultation on the budget can be found here: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/budgetconsultation

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