At tonight’s Council meeting, Knowsley Council’s three year budget was agreed, which includes an investment package to further grow and develop the borough, along with the £14.8m of savings the Council needs to make over the next three years.
This is the first time the council has set a three year budget, enabling implementation of the savings to be phased over the three years and minimising the impact on residents.
Which savings were agreed?
The savings agreed include reducing the opening hours of the One Stop Shops and Contact Centre (but many council services are available online with even more planned over the coming months and years), stopping the mobile library service (but the home delivery service will continue), reviewing all adult care packages to ensure they are aligned to the needs of individuals and reviewing alternative ways to manage and fund the borough’s parks and green spaces.
What investments will the council make?
An £80m investment package has also been secured which will grow and sustain the borough. This investment will be ploughed into projects and initiatives that will drive economic growth in the area. These include the construction of the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, the development of Halsnead Garden Village, improved retail, visitor attractions and leisure offerings (such as a cinema) in town centres. Councillors also agreed to support the acceleration of housing developments offering opportunities for first-time buyers as well as executive homes and investment in assistive technology which will help people to remain independent for longer.
In addition, a permanent new investment of £300,000 will be provided to keep the borough’s neighbourhoods cleaner and well maintained, along with the establishment of a £1m social sector fund to enable the community, voluntary and faith sectors to work better with the council to provide services and support for residents and communities.
Council tax rates for 2017-18
Also approved was the recommendation to increase Council Tax by 4.99% – 3% of which is the Government’s proposed extra Council tax precept which will be invested back into Adult Social Care services to support residents to remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible.
Cllr Gary See, Cabinet Member for Resources, said:
“Knowsley is the hardest hit council in the country when it comes to Government funding cuts. By 2020, we will have suffered a real terms cut of 56% in our funding. £100m will have been stripped from our budget. That’s a permanent cut of fifteen hundred pounds per household in this borough. At the same time, demand for our services and the cost of providing our services have increased.”
“Over the last two years, this Labour Council has driven forward plans to increase jobs, housing and business investment, spend more locally and develop our town centres. We have an £80m investment programme aimed at making this borough sustainable and raising more money locally to protect our key services from the cuts.”
“We have agreed a three year budget. To achieve this we have had to make £14.8m worth of savings but we have worked hard to minimise the impact on services and jobs. Of that overall savings figure, £13.5m – over 90% – does not reduce the services we provide. We are changing services, we are delivering them differently, we are making them more efficient, and we are investing in new technology. Bottom line……we are doing everything we can to protect services.”