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Council must address £9.14m funding gap to set one year budget

Sefton Council must address a further £9.14m funding gap to set a balanced budget for 2020/21.

For the past 6 years, the local authority has worked towards setting 2 three-year budget plans to ensure that the Council’s financial statutory obligations are met.

However, the Government’s latest settlement is for one year only, which makes it extremely difficult to forecast the funding the Council is likely to receive in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

A report outlining a budget plan for 2020/21 has just been released that will go to Cabinet on February 13 with a final decision made along with setting any Council Tax increases at the Budget Meeting on February 27.

The report outlines a shortfall of £9.14m for 2020/21 and at least a further £22.83m for the following two years.

These further savings come after Sefton Council has been required to meet an overall budget shortfall of £233m since 2010.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour leader at Sefton Council, said: “Since 2010 we have had to make savings of more than £233m – that equates to a staggering £722 per household in the borough.

“The process of trying to set a balanced budget seems to be relentless and we now have to make further tough choices for the next financial year and our budget plan will have to reflect this.

“While we have an excellent track record of effectively managing our finances and delivering financial sustainability, this is becoming increasingly difficult and what the Government is proposing is simply not a viable solution.

“There are still huge pressures on both adult and children’s social care along with our schools but our calls for help in these areas seem to go ignored. These pressures are only going to get worse and the government continues to expect the Council to increase Council Tax to ensure our most vulnerable are protected.

“However, we will strive to ensure that essential services that safeguard the most vulnerable residents across the whole borough are protected and prioritised in addition to ensuring that financial sustainability is maintained.

“This is no easy feat and when I look around the borough, I’m still amazed and impressed with the quantity and quality of services that we still continue to offer.

“The budget plan report will hopefully enable us to set a balanced budget for 2020/21 and allow us to plan for the next two years to give the Council sufficient time to identify specific proposals to deliver financial sustainability until 2023.

“We will continue to work with our elected members and partners during this uncertain period and carry on doing the best for our valued communities.”