Growing a Strong Warrington
What is Warrington’s story so far?
Since 2010 we have been talking to you about our financial situation due to significant cuts in the funding we receive from central government. In the early days we managed these cuts through taking relatively simple steps, such as reviewing our contracts with suppliers and reducing our spending. Over the years we have taken a more proactive approach to the cuts, seeking innovation and working with other public, private and third sector organisations to change the way residents receive services. Some good examples of this are the creation of LiveWire, Culture Warrington and Catalyst who now offer many of the non-statutory services that the council used to, including leisure centres, libraries, theatres and social care facilities.
Despite our challenges our Vision for the town remains the same:
“We will work together with our residents, businesses and partners to make Warrington a place where everyone can thrive”
With this in mind, we continue to move forward with our ambitious plans to encourage growth, create new jobs and homes and bring further investment in Warrington. We are already ranked number one in the country for successful business start-ups and we want this to continue so that our residents, particularly our young people have a good start in their work life.
We have a very strong track record in managing the council budget, so much so that we are now able to borrow large amounts of money and invest them in growing the economy and the town’s roads and rail links, our ‘infrastructure’. This funding is separate to the revenue budget that we need to make cuts from, and we call it capital funding. Where a project is funding by capital funding we try and make this clear on the development works. The Bridge Street redevelopment, new schools and our new street lighting are examples of capital funding.
The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” this could not be more true. Whilst it hasn’t been easy and we have had difficult decisions to make we have survived so far, and in many cases flourished. We now sell several of our services commercially, protecting the expertise that local schools and businesses value, and removing the need for the council to use its funding to maintain them in the future.
As a major employer for the town we have so far managed to avoid significant compulsory redundancies. We have done this by not recruiting to vacant positions and offering voluntary redundancy to employees that want it. We support job growth by encouraging businesses to relocate here and hire locally, but also through our support for apprenticeship schemes and job clubs to help people back into work.
Many changes may not be very noticeable to a high number of residents, whereas other cuts, such replacing grass cutting with meadow planting were more noticeable.
What does the future look like in Warrington?
With an estimated £35 million of savings and cuts needed by 2019 things have to change.
The council’s primary job is to take care of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and that is where the majority of our funding goes, but councils have always done more than their statutory duties to make our towns attractive, safe and a place to be proud of. Unfortunately some of the work we have to do, or the costs we incur are avoidable such as picking up litter and finding the culprits who fly tip or let their dogs foul the pavements.
Warrington has a rising number of children and adults who need the support of specialist social care and health services and residential care. While we wholeheartedly support the concept of the ‘living wage’ (and will be bringing this in for our own employees), we are conscious that the wage increase will raise the costs for us from our service providers, and their suppliers too, so we need to factor this in to our future financial planning.
Like many other towns our population, currently at 206,000 is ageing. This is natural progression as people have good access to health care and community support. However it is a sad fact that as we age we are at greater risk of developing poor physical or mental health difficulties, and conditions such as Dementia and diabetes increase, which in turn increases the likelihood of that person needing support packages from the council, health service and third sector.
In December 2015 Central Government announced via the provisional 2016/17 Local Government Finance Settlement that social care authorities such as Warrington will be able to increase their council tax by 2 per cent over the existing council tax referendum threshold. This additional precept would be on top of the proposed 1.98% rise next year.
The proviso set out by central government is that the additional 2 per cent ‘social care precept’ is spent on adult social care services. Applying the 2 per cent increase in full would generate an additional £1.6m to use in addressing increasing demand for adult social care services.
There are ways every resident can help from the young to the old. We need everyone to make very simple commitments to not drop litter, cut back on alcohol and sugar intake, stop smoking and exercise more often. You can also help by recycling more, and using your car less often, choosing different ways to get around.
Budget Consultation 2016-17
This consultation has now closed.
We have saved £92 million from our budget since 2010 and we have to save another £35 million by 2019. This will mean, in reality that we have a real terms reduction of £1,396 per household since 2010.
Budget consultation 2016/17 will run from Monday 18 January until Monday 15 February.
A series of events have already been held, and all residents and businesses are invited to have their say on the proposals. Please direct your comments to our dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2 February report presented to Council Scrutiny Committee
- 15 February consideration by Executive Board
- 29 February consideration by Full Council.
Budget consultation event dates
- Trade Unions - 18 January, 12pm at the Town Hall
- Third Sector - 20 January, 9am at the Gateway
- Business - 21 January, 4pm at the Town Hall
- Impact - 21 January, 6:30pm at the New Youth Café
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