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Friday, October 23, 2015

Meeting the budget challenge: Council to consult on savings

Residents, organisations and businesses will be invited to give their views on the Borough Council’s policy options for savings, efficiencies and increases in income to balance the budget for 2016/17.

Over the last four years the Council has had to make savings of around 30%, primarily as a result of reductions in the grant funding that it receives from the Government. However the Council continues to face significant financial challenges, like most councils in the country, and needs to continue to reduce spending.

The Council faces a further budget gap for 2016/17 of £1.26 million.  We have already identified savings totalling around £560,000 through a range of measures including efficiencies and automation, and providing more services online. This includes £200,000 of savings through an extension to the Council’s Base Budget Review programme which looks to reduce expenditure budgets while maintaining service levels.

To meet the remaining budget gap, we have drawn up a package of options totalling around £700,000 a year. The next step will be to gather views from residents, community groups, organisations and businesses.

People and organisations will be able to give their views through your views.  A  West Lancs ‘Your Views’ page on Facebook is also being launched: facebook.com/WLBCyourviews (external link). Comments can also be submitted by letter or email. The consultation will be launched on Wednesday 28 October and the closing date will be 10 January 2016. Final decisions will be made at Council in February 2016.

The main options on which views are sought include:

  • Introducing a £30 annual charge for seasonal collection of garden waste
  • Householders could also choose to have an extra green bin emptied, for an additional annual cost of £25.  This is expected to raise around £500,000. 
  • Reducing grants to parish councils, saving a total of up to £33,000.
  • Rationalisation of dog waste and litter bins and move to dual waste bins. This will save around £28,000.
  • Replacing the Mayor’s Civic Dinner with a Charity Ball, to save £4,000, along with other specific savings on civic budgets totalling a further £6,000.
  • Restructuring the building control service to save £42,000.
  • Renegotiation of the shared services contract for revenues, benefits and ICT to save £42,000 initially, and more in future years.

Cllr Chris Wynn, Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: "We have put together this package with the aim of minimising the impact on residents.  We have tried to maximise efficiency while protecting services, staff and jobs.  I encourage local organisations and individual residents to visit the website, find out more and complete the surveys so that we can take their views into account before final decisions are made."

The Council is seeking views from individuals and organisations and is working with West Lancashire CVS to contact local voluntary and community groups, businesses, and other organisations to invite them to take part.  However, it is stressed that the consultation is open to all. Any organisation can complete the survey and all residents can take part. Paper copies of the surveys can be provided if requested.

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