Page last updated February 2024

We face a difficult budget challenge in 2024/25

In 2024/25, we will have a budget gap of up to £26 million. We have a plan to balance the budget, but it won’t be without having to make difficult choices.

The pressures we face are significant across our “people” services. We are spending more money and using more resources to look after people who really need our help. This includes elderly and frail people, young people and families, and those at risk of homelessness.

We are also committing to bringing services provided by LiveWire back “in-house”. It’s really important to us that people can continue to access good-quality libraries, leisure and lifetsyles services. Protecting the services provided by LiveWire is therefore a priority for us. We have no realistic alternative than to insource these services, but it will cost money to do this.

Higher costs and rising demand

Generally, it’s more expensive for us to “keep the lights on” and provide the usual day-to-day services that people need. This is largely due to the cost-of-living crisis and inflation challenges.

And it’s not just us facing these pressures. The Local Government Association reported in December 2023 that one in five councils could face effective bankruptcy this year or next. In January 2024, independent research found that 40% of councils could face “financial failure” within the next five years.

It is in this context that we have set out our budget plan for 2024/25 and why your Council Tax is so important. 

Your Council Tax explained

This year, we have confirmed a Council Tax increase of 4.98%. This is made up of a 2.98% council precept, plus a 2% adult social care precept.

This was approved at a Full Council meeting on Monday 26 February.

No council wants to increase council tax – we know that it means more residents paying out of their pocket, but the reality is we have no alternative if we want to continue providing our essential services.

Council Tax rates in Warrington are lower than a lot of other places. This means that in Warrington, even with the proposed rate increase, you will pay less Council Tax than if you lived in many other places. This also means we’re not able to collect as much money from Council Tax to keep services running, compared to many other areas.

How Warrington's Council Tax compares

2023/24 funding per dwelling

The regional average funding per dwelling is £829:

  • Cheshire East - £240
  • Warrington - £360
  • Cheshire West and Cheshire - £362
  • Stockport - £538
  • Trafford - £562
  • Bury - £678
  • Sefton - £749
  • Wigan - £797
  • St Helens - £832
  • Wirral - £834
  • Tameside - £869
  • Bolton - £889
  • Blackpool - £936
  • Halton - £947
  • Salford - £952
  • Rochdale - £1,060
  • Oldham - £1,073
  • Liverpool - £1,184
  • Manchester - £1,262
  • Knowsley - £1,449
Council Tax Band D costs

The regional average for a Band D property is £1,756.02:

  • Wigan - £1,479.56
  • Trafford - £1,525.51
  • Manchester - £1,618.25
  • Halton - £1,675.29
  • Bolton - £1,687.64
  • Warrington - £1,694.79
  • St Helens - £1,707.13
  • Cheshire East - £1,707.39
  • Tameside - £1,734.58
  • Knowsley - £1,753.18
  • Cheshire West and Chester - £1,794.52
  • Wirral - £1,798.48
  • Bury – £1,828.31
  • Blackpool - £1,837.23
  • Sefton - £1,853.90
  • Salford - £1,862.28
  • Oldham - £1,863.16
  • Rochdale - £1,867.78
  • Stockport - £1,883.41
  • Liverpool - £1,974.97

How will we balance the budget this year?

To help balance our budget this year we will be using some of our reserves, but we simply can’t do this year after year. Reserves are pots of money that we have put aside for planned projects but also for harder-to-predict situations or high demands for our services.

We have been careful in recent years to build up a healthy amount of reserves. But it is not sustainable to keep using reserves to balance our budget. And it’s not just us saying this: the Local Government Association has recently explained why councils using their reserves to balance budget pressures isn’t the right solution.

Despite the budget challenge we face, we will be able to set a balanced budget again in 2024/25, with our priority continuing to support our most vulnerable residents.

The Warrington £

More than 70p of every £1 we spend goes towards things like:

  • helping older people remain as happy, healthy and independent as possible
  • looking after vulnerable children and working hard to keep families together
  • supporting people who have just been discharged from hospital
  • supporting residents with special educational needs and disabilities
  • providing accommodation from those at risk of homelessness

The breakdown of the Warrington £

46p – Care and support for older people, and adults who need help

We provide care and support to more than 2,800 adults. More people are needing help from these services and it’s more expensive to provide them.

We know providing care for people that need it in Warrington is an ever-increasing challenge. But we’re determined to keep providing good levels of care from our services. This includes:

  • supporting people to remain as independent as possible in their own homes on a long-term basis
  • providing support to people who have recently been discharged from hospital
  • Supporting people with mental health issues or disabilities to live as happily and healthily as possible
  • Providing support to elderly or frail people

What does this 46p of every £1 we spend look like?

In the 2023/24 financial year, we spent more than £100 million on adult social care. This went towards things like residential care, nursing homes, supported living, day care and direct payments.

Hear from some of our residents to get a sense of the range of services we provide.

The Puddle Project

Creative Remedies

David's story

Robin's story



20p – Protecting children and vulnerable young people

We provide care and support for more than 1,500 children and young people. We’re working hard to support our children and families, despite the National Children’s Bureau reporting that council budgets are facing soaring costs for children’s social care.

Through our work across children’s services, we:

  • Work hard to keep families together
  • Support children who need help and support to live happily and healthily
  • Provide support to children in our care

What does this 20p of every £1 we spend look like?

Hear from Darren, Alex and Craig about some of the innovative services we provide to children and families.

Darren - No Wrong Door


Alex - the Systemic Practice Hub

Craig - Mockingbird


Case study: the Restore programme

Restore supports our most vulnerable expectant parents and their families. Through the programme, we have saved around £1.5 million.

This has been done by keeping babies that are born with their families. The Restore programme supports families at the earliest opportunity within pregnancy. It gives parents the chance to work with professionals to make and sustain positive changes. These changes help to promote the best outcomes for themselves and their babies.

Working within the best practice guidelines as set out by Born in Care research, Restore reduces the need for intervention and keeps families together. 

8p – Business support, insurance costs, HR, IT and financial support

In 2023, around 8p of every £1 of our overall spend was on keeping back-office council services running, funding insurance costs and providing help and support to local residents and businesses.

7p – Recycling collection and waste disposal

In 2023, we recycled more than 35,000 tonnes of household waste and emptied more than 5.4 million bins.

7p – Leisure, recreation, libraries and culture

We spend around 7p of every £1 on keeping libraries, leisure and lifestyle service running, currently operated by LiveWire. We also spend money on cultural activities and events, alongside cultural buildings like Pyramid Arts Centre and Parr Hall.

Case study: investing in our leisure, libraries and lifestyle services

Culcheth Village Library

The refurbished Culcheth Village Library officially opened its doors in November.

Part of our wider libraries modernisation programme, it has helped rejuvenate the library – which was built in 1965 - providing a range of improvements, including a brand new space, ‘The Atrium Room’, a new entrance and an accessible walkway running around the building.

Birchwood Community Hub

Following seven months of works, the re-developed Birchwood Community Hub officially opened in November 2023.

The project, funded by the council and delivered in partnership with LiveWire, has seen extensive renovations and improvements carried out. This includes a new-look reception area and changing rooms, a fitness suite revamp, a newly refurbished indoor tennis hall and modern library.

Watch: Birchwood community hub reopening (November 2023)


4p – Maintaining roads and grounds

Maintaining roads and grounds – we responded to around 3,000 highway enquiries last year and gritted our primary routes 46 times, covering a total of almost 15,000km

4p – Supporting young people (excluding schools)

This includes our early help services, and keeping open six children’s centres, a youth hub, and a play and sensory centre, which provide vital help and support to many vulnerable children and their families.

Case study: specialist transport

  • We currently transport 649 pupils. This is a 31% increase in the number of Special Educational Needs (SEN) students receiving free school transport compared to September 2021
  • The number of contracts needed to transport these pupils has risen from 111 in September 2021 to 167 in February 2024, an increase of 50.4% in the last 30 months
  • The cost per day of operating the SEN network of transport routes has increased by 44.6% in the last 18 months (September 2022 to February 2024).
  • We are spending £19,708 per day – with a forecast spend of £3.4 million this financial year and £3.77 million for the 2024/25 financial year.
2p – Housing the homeless and housing planning

Housing the homeless and housing planning – in 2023, we supported more than 2,500 households at risk of homelessness and provided temporary accommodation to 507 households

1p – Street cleaning and street lighting

Street cleaning and street lighting – we maintained more than 27,800 streetlights and more than 1,900 illuminated signs across the borough last year

1p – Community safety

1p in every £1 is spent on community safety work and initiatives.

The examples given are far from an exhaustive list of services and support the council offers day-in, day-out. They are illustrative examples of the council's net spend on services. The costs are indicative of how our budget is allocated to services, and are subject to change.

Generating income to help keep services running

The amount of money we collect from Council Tax won’t be enough to cover the cost of running services that provide care and support to our most vulnerable.

We have, in recent years, adopted a commercial approach. This approach has supported Warrington’s economy, protected local jobs, and given people more opportunities to work, live, visit and play in Warrington.

Our approach has also supported us by bringing in around £23 million a year, through things like rent collections on buildings and assets we own. This has protected us from having to make big cuts to services that many people rely on.

This financial year is different though. With our level of borrowing at £1.8bn, we know we cannot keep borrowing and investing on the same scale as in recent years.

I need help and support

We know that the cost of living is a real concern for many residents at the moment. Support is available if you need it.

Further information

31 May 2024