Council Budget 2016/17 and Medium Term Financial Strategy
- Meeting of Budget Meeting, Cabinet, Thursday, 17th December 2015 6.15 p.m. (Item 80.)
- View the background to item 80.
‘’We continue to face unprecedented financial challenges, as ongoing national Government austerity policies place huge pressure on the services and support Wirral people rely on. In our Wirral Plan we made a commitment that we would never use this as an excuse for doing nothing, and we reaffirm that commitment to Wirral people today.
Setting a budget for next year is once again a difficult task – made more difficult yet again by the Chancellor with yet more cuts to local government following his Autumn Statement.
Of the £24 million which we are currently required to save next year, almost two-thirds have been proposed which have no impact at all on the services which we provide. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to finding new, innovative and progressive ways to set a balanced budget and still protect our services and our residents as best we can.
We are a responsible and pragmatic Administration, and for as long as I am Leader of this Council we will always set a balanced, fair and sustainable budget which protects the most vulnerable and makes the best use of our resources to ensure we can deliver on our Pledges to local people.’’
Councillor Phil Davies
Reason(s) for Decision(s):
The Medium Term Financial Strategy and its associated financial governance arrangements are key to ensuring that the Council is well run and financially stable. Throughout the year the major financial matters are presented in a series of reports which highlight the financial position of the Council and the decisions needed to ensure the Council remains financially stable.
The Council has to meet a legal requirement to set a balanced Budget in March 2016 for the 2016/17 financial year. This report details the approach and includes proposals and initiatives to meet the challenge for 2016/17 and for the five year period as the Medium Term Financial Strategy supports the delivery of the Wirral Plan and the outcomes as set out in the Wirral pledges for 2020.
(1) the forecast budget funding gap for 2016/17, currently £24 million and the projected funding gap for 2016/21, £126 million, be noted;
(2) the impact of the budget reductions and proposals for 2016/17 as summarised in Section 3.34 of the report and detailed in Appendix A of the report be noted;
(3) Officers be authorised to complete the required consultation and engagement with residents, partners and other stakeholders on the budget proposals in advance of Budget decisions in February 2016 as detailed in Appendix B of the report;
(4) an updated Budget Report and Medium Term Financial Strategy be reported to the Cabinet meeting on 22 February 2016. (This being to cover the updated financial projections, including the impact of the Local Government Finance Settlement expected in mid-December 2015, and the outcome from the engagement and consultation undertaken); and
(5) call-in in respect of these decisions be waived, as they are considered urgent, and any delay caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the Council’s and/or public’s interest, in that it would adversely affect the ability of the Council to meet the legal requirement to set a balanced Budget for 2016/17.
The Leader of the Council reported that, over the next five years, Wirral Council was projecting a funding gap of £126 million due to Government austerity measures and increasing demands for services.
The report presented a series of proposed actions to enable the Council to take the necessary steps to present a balanced budget for 2016/17 and be in a better position to present balanced budgets in the subsequent four years to 2020/21.
The size of the funding gap meant that there would be an impact upon services for the people of Wirral. The Budgets would be informed by, and aligned to, the pledges within the Wirral Plan.
The focus would be on generating more income into the Council and the Borough, on finding new ways of achieving positive outcomes for residents, on building further integration with our partners and on ensuring the £201 million annual budget Wirral Council would be investing into the borough by 2020 delivered value for money for residents.