Page last updated February 2023

A budget that prioritises our most vulnerable people

It has been, and continues to be, well documented that councils face very difficult decisions this financial year. Legacy impacts of COVID, continued demand increase for services and, critically, incredibly high inflation rates out of our control mean that balancing the budget is a more difficult task than ever.

The cost of living is affecting all of us, as the price of things is increasing. This is no different for the council, as many of the services we provide are becoming more and more expensive to run.

It’s a perfect storm of pressures, but we are weathering it, and have put forward a balanced budget for this financial year.

Our budget for the 2023/24 financial year was approved at Full Council on Monday 27 February 2023. Read the full budget paper and budget book for more information:

Our budget explained

Over the past decade, councils have taken the strain when it comes to public service cuts with, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), a £15 billion real-terms cut in funding to councils, which equates to around 60p in every £1. This is a staggering figure that has been cut away from councils that provide hundreds of valuable services to residents.

For us locally in Warrington, during the 2023/24 financial year, we estimate having to save at least another £13 million this financial year.

When we think about the demand for our services, particularly care for the elderly and vulnerable, this makes managing our budget a difficult task.

Council tax proposals

To help us maintain essential services and present a balanced budget, our proposals include a 4.98% rise in council tax, which will need to be approved by a meeting of the Full Council.

No council would want 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.

Our proposal to increase council tax isn’t unique – with most councils in England (up to 95%) expected to see a 5% in their council tax rates.

Despite this proposed increase in council tax, we cannot forget that we are one of the lowest funded councils in the country so, while this increase will cost our residents more, it will be a smaller rate increase compared to many other areas.

What does my council tax actually go towards?

We provide lots of services that people see – fixing potholes, gritting, emptying bins, maintaining parks and cutting grass – but the vast majority of our spend, over 60p in every £1, goes towards protecting and supporting our vulnerable, frail or elderly residents.

This includes:

  • providing care to people who have just been discharged from hospital
  • looking after vulnerable children and working hard to keep families together
  • providing support to our residents with special educational needs and disabilities
  • ensuring our social workers can keep working to support our residents who need additional help
  • providing accommodation from those at risk of homelessness
  • giving care and support to people with mental health issues

In short, looking after people who need care in their own home costs us around two thirds of our budget. Not many people know this, because they are traditionally the less visible services we provide.

A £ graphic showing where money is spent - full description of spend is on the page and begins with 49p towards adult services
  • 49p – Care and support for older people and adults
  • 20p – Protecting children and vulnerable young people
  • 7p – Recycling collection and waste disposal
  • 7p – Business support, insurance costs, HR, IT and financial support
  • 5p – Leisure, recreation, libraries and culture
  • 4p – Maintaining roads and grounds
  • 4p – Supporting young people, excluding schools
  • 2p – Housing the homeless and housing planning
  • 1p – Street cleaning and street lighting
  • 1p – Community safety

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

What does spending this money on services look like?

As a snapshot of some services provided, we spend money on:

  • Care and support for older people and adults – we provide care and support to more than 2,896 people
  • Protecting children and vulnerable young people – we provide care and support for 1,503 children and young people
  • Recycling collection and waste disposal – we recycled 41,000 tonnes of household waste in 2022 and emptied 6.2 million bins
  • Street cleaning and street lighting – we maintained 27,657 street lights and more than 1,900 illuminated signs across the borough last year
  • Housing the homeless and housing planning – in 2022, we supported 2,728 households at risk of homelessness and provided temporary accommodation to 422 households
  • Supporting young people (not including schools) – our early help services, including six children’s centres, a youth hub, and a play and sensory centre provide vital help and support
  • Maintaining roads and grounds – we responded to 2,982 highway enquiries last year and gritted our primary routes 46 times, covering a total of almost 15,000km

Our commercial approach

Because we are one of the lowest-funded councils in the country, we’ve had to look at ways to offset the worst of the cuts we’ve faced. You can read about our commercial approach, which raises around £25 million every year which is ploughed back into services.

Our commercial approach, in terms of purchasing solar farms, also means we can pursue our climate and carbon reduction goals – we essentially generate our own electricity needs through our solar farm investments, by selling green electricity to the grid and buying green electricity back from it.

We know that our investment and commercial approach isn’t universally popular, but we know that the model is working. If we didn’t invest, we would be left with having to make really difficult choices about service cuts – where services we provide, often to our most vulnerable people, would have to be cut back or stopped entirely.

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

Each year, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire sets the police precept, which is the element of local council tax payments which funds policing.