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The government has cut funding to Warrington Borough Council by £137 million since 2010. And by 2020 we will have to save at least another £22 million. At the same time, demand on services is growing as people live longer and the borough’s population continues to grow.
We want to protect services for vulnerable people, such as social care for children and adults, whilst also doing our best to maintain other services such as waste and recycling collection, street cleaning and roads maintenance.
By law, we are required to set a balanced budget at the start of every financial year (April to March). We also forecast an estimated budget position for each of the following three years. This approach enables us to be more strategic in our planning, look forward and plan a longer term budget. To produce the budget, we consulted with local community and voluntary organisations, and residents and businesses. Because we take a longer term view, some of our budget proposals are not yet sufficiently developed to consult on specific details. So in addition to the overall budget consultation we will also hold separate, more detailed, consultations on specific proposals during the four year period.
The budget was ratified at Full Council on Monday 25 February 2019.You can read the committee meeting papers online
Council funding explained
Sometimes it may seem as though the council is spending large amounts of money on investments or buildings, whilst making cuts to important public services. However, behind the headlines, there are two different ways the council receives, and is allowed to spend, its money.
Revenue funding - is money that we can only use for day-to-day spending like running services, staff costs and paying bills. The money is from council tax, business rates, fees we charge for services and money we make from our assets. It is revenue funding which is affected by government cuts. We aren't allowed to borrow money to fund day-to-day services.
Capital funding – is money that we can only use to invest in long term projects or to buy assets which will generate income in the future (which we can then use as 'revenue' to deliver services to you). This capital money comes from specific grants and low interest loans.
So, the council does not spend money on buildings and investments instead of services - they are two different funds. The money we make from our capital investments will be used to help run your public services in the future. This is the only way we can plug the gap between increasing demand from our residents and reduced funding from the government.
From April 2018 Warrington Borough Council are required to produce a Capital Strategy following the publication of the revised Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities 2017.
How every pound of your council tax is spent
The budget consultation process
The council publishes its annual budget for the upcoming year every March. Each year we also produce a Medium Term Financial Plan that analyses the budget and spending over a four year term to allow decisions to be made about spending in line with our corporate priorities.
The budget-setting process for the following year starts around June. Councillors, directors and service managers put forward savings proposals and identify areas for investment, followed by a period of consultation with the public, staff and local businesses, usually lasting for around six weeks in December and January. The Cabinet then takes consultation feedback into account before recommending a set of proposals to go to Full Council for approval.
More budget information
Each year the council must publish certain financial information: