Agenda item

Budget Projections 2011-14

The Chair has agreed to consideration of this item as a matter of urgent business.


The Leader had agreed to consideration of this item as a matter of urgent business.


The Director of Finance submitted a report which updated the Cabinet on the projected budgets for the years from 2011 to 2014.


The Leader referred to the seriousness of the situation with a projected shortfall of £24.4m in 2011-12 rising to £81m, over the three years 2011-14.


Having circulated an amended recommendation to the Cabinet, it was then moved by Councillor Green, seconded by Councillor Elderton and –


Resolved –


(1) Cabinet thanks the Director of Finance for his report and notes the major financial challenges facing the Council.


(2) Cabinet believes the longer we wait, the more drastic any action required will need to be to tackle this financial challenge later on and the less the Council will be able to spend on the things that really matter to the residents, staff and communities we serve who depend on our services.


(3) Cabinet thanks all of the staff who have responded to our request to let us know what could be done to save money in a way that protects services and notes that a number of these suggestions have been included in this resolution.


(4) Cabinet therefore instructs Officers to take the following actions:


  (i)  The Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development to begin discussions with the Trade Unions and our staff concerning the financial challenge and a range of measures that could be put in place to reduce costs with the options reported back to Cabinet.


  (ii)  To ensure any requests for reduced hours are considered in the light of the Council’s current financial challenges and, following feedback to the Leader’s letter to staff, ensure any application for flexible working that reduces the Councils costs must be forwarded to the Head of HR and OD and the Director of Finance at the same time as the appropriate line manager.


 (iii)  To minimise any discretionary spend within their departments by ensuring that any requests to spend £100 or more be approved in an auditable manner by the relevant Head of Service.


 (iv)  All requests for the engagement, renewal or extension of consultants be minimised and subject to prior approval by a relevant Cabinet member.


  (v)  That provision of ‘free’ meals and sandwiches for officer or Council meetings including training courses be minimised immediately and a review be undertaken with the intention of bringing this practice to an end.


 (vi)  Cease the purchase of any first class travel with immediate effect.


(vii)  Minimise marketing spend and conduct an urgent review of all Council internal and external publications, including the ‘One Magazine’, with a view to identifying cost reductions.


(viii)  The Director of Finance to identify for Cabinet consideration any expenditure proposals which have been agreed but not yet committed. That an immediate review of any current or planned IT projects and developments be conducted to recommend to Cabinet whether they should be delayed or cancelled.


 (ix)  Given the successful governance and management of the waste and recycling and highways projects the Director of Technical Services carry out an immediate review of the Council’s ‘Strategic Change Programme’ and recommend to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council the future scale, content and governance structure for the programme. 


  (x)  Introduce a freeze on recruitment to existing vacancies, creation of new vacancies, the renewal or extension to fixed term contracts and the use of Agency staff and consultants. This will be reviewed on a six monthly basis.


·  The Head of HR and OD to propose a set of criteria for agreeing exemptions to the freeze, which will focus upon the protection of front line services such as Child protection and Sure Start.  The criteria shall be approved by the Leader in consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Council.


·  Exemptions from the freeze shall be subject to approval from the Director of Finance and Head of HR and OD, who will scrutinise each application against the published set of criteria in consultation with the relevant Director. Any applications for exemption shall be copied to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council.


 (xi)  That the use of overtime is reduced and that each Chief Officer is held accountable for putting in place an auditable system for the authorisation and the use of overtime. Authorisation can be delegated to an appropriate senior officer.


·  The Head of HR and OD be asked to review the overall spend on overtime with the aim of reducing expenditure.


(xii)  That the Head of HR and OD be instructed to prepare a report for the Employment and Appointments Committee for referral to Council for a decision, setting out a new procedure for creating and deleting posts on the staffing structure and appointing staff up to SCP49 under an appropriate system of delegated authority to officers. 


·  That on adoption of this new procedure all vacant posts currently shown on the staffing establishment be deleted other than by exception as agreed by the relevant Director, Director of Finance and Head of HR and OD.


  (xiii)  The Director of Law, HR and Asset Management reports back to the next Cabinet on the potential implementation and benefits of centralising of the HR and OD service.


  (xiv)  The Director of Finance and Head of HR and OD be asked to report regularly to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council on the savings realised from the above proposals.


  (xv)  Following the deletion of the post of Director of Regeneration, the Chief Executive consults on making permanent the temporary reassignments of:


·  The Housing and Regeneration Division to the Corporate Services Directorate


·  The Regulation Division to the Law, HR and Asset Management Directorate, and reports back to Cabinet.


  (xvi)  In addition the Chief Executive consults on:


·  The reassignment of all asset management responsibilities relating to the built assets of the Council’s Leisure Estate to the Law, HR and Asset Management Directorate.


·  Options for the future assignment of the Cultural Services Division.


(5) This administration affirms its total commitment to a new way of working – engaging and consulting communities and stakeholders from across Wirral.


(6) Therefore, whilst the need to take immediate action now to save cash is clear; Cabinet believes that Wirral residents, staff and Councillors are all in this together and that as a Council we must engage with and listen to residents, communities, faith groups and our staff regarding their views and priorities given the scale of the financial issues facing the council.


(7) Cabinet, therefore, instructs the Director of Corporate Services to develop, as a matter of urgency, a consultation programme that will enable us to truly engage with Wirral residents, community and voluntary groups and businesses in the future. The programme will be approved by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council and should be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.


(8) This programme must incorporate innovative ways of reaching all who wish to have the opportunity of helping to shape the future of Wirral Council Services. In addition it must enable the Council to develop broad support on the need for change, before progressing on to possible solutions.


(9) This consultation should have at its centre the objectives of the Corporate Plan which are:


  • To create more jobs, achieve a prosperous economy and regenerate Wirral.
  • To create a clean, pleasant, safe and prosperous environment.
  • To improve health and well being for all, ensuring people who require support are full participants in mainstream society.
  • To raise the aspirations of young people.


(10) The delivery of these challenging objectives depends upon meaningful debate with communities regarding the provision and delivery of services to ensure residents’ needs are met.


(11) The consultation programme should take full account of this and ensure a flexible system of engagement and consultation is in place to enable meaningful information to be gathered to inform future Cabinet decision making.

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