Walsall Council’s draft revenue budget for 2021/22 to 2023/24 was reported to Cabinet at their meeting last night, Wednesday 28 October, and was approved to open for public consultation today.
The draft budget sets out some £36.7m of proposed savings and efficiencies over the next two years.
Like all local authorities, the council has continued to see direct funding and grants from central government reduce as a result of ongoing national austerity measures and government spending reviews. Since 2010, Walsall Council has been required to reduce spending by £201m—£107m as a result of decreasing government funding and £94m arising from service cost pressures—with an expected further £8.8m savings required to be made during the current financial year.
Councillor Mike Bird, Leader of Walsall Council said:
“We are in a period of national financial uncertainty, and this is being felt across the country. In Walsall the council needs to ensure limited funds are being spent on the right things at the right time if we are to continue to meet the needs of our residents in the face of decreasing funds and increasing costs.
“We have a legal obligation to set a balanced budget, and the need to navigate the complex and ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the growing demand for council services means that difficult decisions have to be made.
“The council is committed to making sure our most vulnerable residents are protected and supported during this time, and this has been foremost in the development of the current draft budget.
“We want to hear your views on the draft budget, and I invite anyone who lives, works, studies, visits or does business in the borough to have their say in this consultation.”
To read the budget proposals and take part in the consultation, please visit www.walsall.gov.uk/budgethaveyoursay
Cabinet will consider the outcomes from the consultation and present their final budget recommendations to full council in February 2021.
Notes to editors
The report is available to view on the council’s Committee Management and Information System (CMIS).
This year, due to the added financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains considerable uncertainty in government funding going forward and no announcements have yet been made. The Spending Review is now expected on 25 November, followed sometime in December by our provisional Government Funding Settlement. This has meant that longer term planning is much more difficult and at this point the draft budget is not balanced, with a further £12m of savings to be identified prior to the setting of the Budget in February 2021.
Policy and operational proposals:
- Policy proposals have a direct impact on services, and which require an Executive decision to proceed. Policy proposals are referred for specific public consultation and equality impact assessment prior to any decision being made to include these in Cabinet’s final budget proposals. Policy proposals are shown on Appendix 3 of the report and total £1.6m.
- Operational proposals are savings which officers have delegations to implement; examples include restructures, back office savings, operational efficiencies. These are shown at Appendix 4 and total £36m.
The budget setting timetable of key reporting dates is as follows:
- The budget setting timetable of key reporting dates is as follows:
- Public and stakeholder consultation commencing 29 October 2020.
- Scrutiny Committees receive the draft revenue budget proposals from 3 November with feedback to Cabinet on 9 December 2020.
- Cabinet meeting 9 December 2020 - updated draft revenue budget, further saving proposals for 2021/22, analysis of the Spending Review/Round 2020 and, if available, the draft core grant settlement from government.
- Scrutiny Committees receive the further budget proposals for comment, along with draft capital programme proposals.
- There is a statutory duty to consult with Non Domestic Rate Payers (businesses and voluntary sector) on changes to council tax and this consultation will close in January 2021.
- Recommendation of the final budget by Cabinet on 10 February 2021.
- Council set the final budget envelope (statutory determinations) and council tax on 25 February 2021.