Sefton Council will have to make even deeper cuts to its budget than first expected.
Following recent Government announcements about the way money will be allocated, the actual impact of their reduction programme has become clearer.
It is now estimated that the reduction of Government funding for the council in “real terms” over the next two years will be a further £33 million.
Sefton is also in a more difficult position than many local authorities because of the high number of older people living in the borough – particularly those over the age of 80. This will cost the council an additional £10 million over the two year period – a figure which will continue to rise, with no additional support from the Government.
This means the gap in the council’s budget is now estimated at a total of around £43 million over the next two years. Although the exact figures will not be known until December, plans will need to be drawn up to meet the savings estimates.
The news comes after the Council has already reduced its budget by £64 million since 2009.
Around 70p of every pound spent by Sefton Council goes on adult and elderly social care and statutory children’s services such as children in care. This leaves very little cash to support other services provided by the council.
Leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Peter Dowd, said: “These are very difficult times. People will be aware of the cuts we have already had to make over the last few years, but we are again likely to face some incredibly difficult decisions in the coming months to meet these stringent Government reductions.
“The real impact of how these cuts in Government funding will affect our communities is starting to emerge. We will do everything we can to make the reductions as responsibly and as fairly as possible – but there are going to be more difficult times ahead.
“An initial package of lower impact savings will be discussed at the meeting of the council’s Cabinet next week but there is a lot more money to find.
“Our ongoing reviews of all council spending will continue in a bid to close the budget gap but it is likely that more significant measures will have to be taken. It is too early to discuss the details of how services are going to be affected.
“We continue to deliver high quality services day in, day out, for our residents and we will still strive to do that in the future, but a lot needs to be done to meet these targets.”
Since the budget reduction process started Sefton Council has not stopped looking for more efficient and better ways of delivering its services. The council will continue to be open and transparent about the options facing it and how savings will be implemented. Consultation with the community and our partners will also continue.
The need to make further savings is not new, and despite the estimated increase in targets, the council has already been planning to make significant reductions in its budget due to the austerity measures.
The Transformation Programme continues to look at the longer-term way we deliver our services and how we might be able to do things in a more sustainable way. Already this year, we have begun specific reviews of a number of major services including Social Care, Libraries and Leisure Services.
The ongoing reviews of all services will also continue in order to assess the most appropriate and affordable level of service to provide for the people of Sefton.
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