COUNCIL tax generated in Wirral could rise by £31m over the next five years.
A new Wirral Council report has been published updating councillors on its budget for the next financial year, the challenges it faces in balancing it, potential future funding for the local authority, and how it will cut back on its spending. This is ahead of a meeting on November 21.
In the next financial year, the council expects to face a £10.5m pressure due to the cost of adult social care rising, £2m from its new offices, £1.8m due to the Floral Pavilion, £5m due to pay and pensions costs, and £3.5m to linked to funding for building projects. The cost of looking after children could be up to £2.5m more next year if costs and the number needing care goes ago.
An ageing population is also expected to put further pressure on services with more working adults leading to an increase in costs of £1m and another £2m as the numbers of those over 65 also goes up.
The report also proposes that in order to close a budget gap which is now £21.43m for the next financial year in 2024-25. To close this, it has proposed savings of £12.39m which would bring the budget black hole down to just over £9m.
To offset this, the local authority is proposing another council tax rise of 3% with an additional 1.99% to help fund adult social care. Generating an expected £8.58m, this is expected to close the final gap to £470,000 in 2024-25.
Over the next five financial years, council tax could also rise by £31.2m according to the report. However, even with a potential council tax rise of £5.6m and £8.29m in savings in 2026-27, the local authority is still expected to find it impossible to balance its budget that year.
However, the report makes clear these predictions are based on whether inflation decreases, which is how the costs of things goes up, as well as future government funding for councils.
For the next financial year, the council has also revealed details about how it will make savings and cut back on its budget next year.
£8.6m is expected to come from increasing efficiency within the council, £750,000 from increasing income, and £3m from changing how services are provided. The council said it does not plan to reduce or stop any services over the next five years.
£4.8m could come from improving cost effectiveness in adult social care, £550,000 to reorganise early help and family support into locally based models, and £1.1m to cut down on spending on childrens’ homes.
The council will once again look at finding a private operator to take over the Floral Pavilion and secure its future in the long term. This could save it £1.3m.
While not part of this year’s budget, the local authority will once again review library provision and consider alternative locations for Birkenhead and Wallasey libraries to integrate them with other services in 2025.
At the November 21 committee, councillors are also expected to recommend the approval of a new council plan which will outline the council’s vision for the borough until 2027, the approval of a plan to transform online services with a business partner, and create a new board to oversea regeneration in Birkenhead, Wallasey, and New Ferry.
According to a council report, this new board is a requirement “to establish a consolidated governance structure” as part of a new trial giving it greater control over government grant funding. The new board will have a wider focus than the current Birkenhead Town Deal board.