Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Budget Consultation: we want to hear your thoughts about our financial future

Like many organisations around the country, we are facing unprecedented pressures on our finances due in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic.


When coronavirus hit, we quickly set up additional services to support residents and local businesses during the crisis, including a ‘food hub’ for vulnerable families and grants for businesses. Our essential services continued, including our refuse and recycling crews being out every working day and we faced extra costs such as buying protective equipment to help keep us all safe.

These costs have come at a time when our own income, from services such as assisting with planning applications and leisure revenue (like swimming pools) has dropped. We have also faced a decade of substantial reductions in central government funding.


As a result of all of this we need to work hard on behalf of all our residents to 'balance the books' as we keep moving towards being a sustainable council.

As we shape our 2022/23 budget, which will include setting council tax levels for that year, we want to hear your views on how you think we can save money and increase income through our public consultation.


To allow us to maintain our current levels of service, we are looking at all of our services to see where we can save money or increase our income to close the gap in our budget.


Councillor Adam Yates, portfolio holder for Resources and Transformation, said: "We were honoured to provide extra services during the pandemic alongside our other essential work to support people living and working in the Borough. But this has had a major impact on our finances.


"The government has not provided full compensation to councils such as ours to cover the costs of the pandemic, nor to cover the drop in income from the closure of our leisure centres and restrictions on other services. As a result, we need to look at our financial position and make some important decisions on how we continue to maintain our services. Your contribution is really important to us and will be one of the factors taken into account when we set our budgets for next year and subsequent years."


West Lancashire Borough Council only receives around 11% of the council tax paid to us by local residents. Most of the money raised through council tax goes to Lancashire County Council to provide services such as education, highways (including repairing potholes) and adult care services. Many of the services we provide are listed on the graphic sent with this article.


The consultation opens on Friday 28 May at midday for six weeks. All feedback and comments are welcomed before the closing date of 9 July (midday).


You can access it here https://westlancs.citizenspace.com/engagement/budget-consultation-2022-23


So please share your views with us by completing this online survey. The survey should take about ten minutes to complete. If you would prefer a copy of the survey in paper format, please contact us at budgetconsulation@westlancs.gov.uk or via our customer services team.