Cabinet councillors in City of Wolverhampton will meet next week to consider options put forward to address a forecast budget deficit in 2019 to 2020.
Since 2010, the council has had to shrink its budget by more than £220 million and lost a third of its workforce as it continues to manage unprecedented cuts from Central Government at a time when demand for services is rising.
This continues to be the most significant financial challenge the council has ever faced.
A report to Cabinet councillors from the authority’s director of finance warns that as well as addressing next year’s deficit, future funding for local government remains uncertain and additional cuts of £40 to £50 million might be needed over the next 5 years.
Next week (Wednesday 17 October) Cabinet will focus on the immediate challenge for 2019 to 2020 and will be asked to agree to a public consultation on a proposed council tax increase of 4.99 per cent next year. The increase would be made up of 2.99% of council tax, plus the 2% adult social care precept.
The public’s views will also be sought on £695,000 of cuts and income generation proposals for next year. Cabinet will also be asked to agree to implement efficiencies, which will not directly impact the public, totalling £4.7 million.
Cabinet will be advised that, between now and January, the council must address a remaining deficit for next year of £6 million and work is underway to identify further efficiencies as a priority.
Councillor Louise Miles, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “In common with councils right across the country, we continue to face cuts from central government which are having an enormous impact on services and jobs in our city.
“We’ve already cut £220 million from our budget over the past 8 years.
“The national picture in terms of Government funding shows no sign of improving and the demand for our services continues to rise. This means we have no choice but to continue to find ways to save money and raise income.
“As always, we will communicate the extent of the budget challenge to our residents as we begin the initial stages of consultation. We would rather not have to raise council tax by 4.99%, which includes the 2% adult social care precept, but the challenge is such that we have to propose the maximum increase.
“We want to engage with the community to manage our way through these cuts by working together and having an ongoing dialogue.
“One of the major issues we face is a lack of information from Whitehall about how local government will be financed in the future. We would welcome clarification from Central Government on how they intend to finance services in Wolverhampton, in particular our adult social care services, where the publication of a Government green paper remains delayed since the summer.
“Meanwhile, we will continue to focus on our priorities and developing new ways of working. We have faced austerity for the best part of a decade and have still managed to be named ‘council of the year’ and attracted billions of pounds of investment, bringing jobs into our city. We will not allow anything to derail those priorities or our ambitions for Wolverhampton.”
Details of how people can take part in the budget consultation will be published following next week’s Cabinet meeting.