Council approves investment to protect services and grow the local economy

Published on: Wednesday, 29-July-2015

Knowsley Council’s Cabinet has today approved budget plans outlining investments of £25.6 million.  Despite facing budget pressures of £30 million, the Cabinet has agreed a bold approach which will see key investments made in the borough.

As part of the council’s budget strategy, funds will be used to deal with immediate issues and predicted budget pressures, as well as investing in initiatives or projects aimed at generating income and growth in Knowsley in the coming years.  The investment will be funded through the reallocation of some council reserves, expected income and some invest-to-save borrowing.

Cllr Bill Weightman, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Finance & Governance commented:

“Knowsley has been the hardest hit area of the UK when it comes to cuts from central government. Recent years have seen us have to slash our budget by £75 million and we know that the £30+ million we need to find over the next two years will not be the last savings we will have to make. We simply can’t continue to absorb these levels of cuts and short term solutions aren’t the right approach for us as a Council or for our communities.

“We have always aimed to adopt a longer term strategy to tackling our budget pressures but the unprecedented level of cuts has made this incredibly difficult. Whilst many have criticised us for holding on to council reserves in the past we have always been clear that we need to allocate one-off money wisely as this won’t help us make the permanent savings we need to. The projects identified will address immediate issues and initiatives that we believe will improve our chances of growth in the future whilst reducing the immediate need for cuts in Council services and jobs.”

All projects initially earmarked for funding from reserves have been reviewed.  Reserves can only be used once, so there has been a reallocation of funding to other initiatives which are deemed to be more appropriate to support service provision and benefit Knowsley’s communities. 

The £25.6 million investment will include more than £5 million for Adults & Children’s Social Care, in excess of £13 million to improve and enhance town centres, and encourage more new housing developments, attracting new businesses, residents and visitors into the borough in order to grow the local economy.  In addition, approximately £600,000 has been allocated to fund new ‘pressures’ like work to prevent Child Sexual Exploitation and implementing the Living Wage. Alongside this, a further £5.9 million has been earmarked to help build long-term sustainability including support for a new model to deliver Leisure Services in the borough and funding to support residents to remain independent in their own homes for longer.

Cllr Weightman added:

“The council budget is incredibly complex and we have considered all options in coming up with this plan in order to ensure any investment is ploughed into the most appropriate initiatives. Our plans will ensure that services and jobs are protected for as long as possible and I am confident that whilst we work to address the savings we need to make, these investments will make a real impact now and the coming years.”

The investment breakdown is:

 

Priority Title Total £m
Social Care New Practice Model for Children's Social Care 1.000
  Adult Social Care – Early Release of Savings 1.548
  Children’s Social Care/Children’s Services – Early Release of Savings 2.054
  Adult Social Care Structures and Commissioning 0.713
  New Delivery Models: New Social Enterprises; Adult Social Care Prevention Support; Joint Venture; Social Work Agency 0.500
Social Care Total 5.815
Jobs, Growth and Housing Housing Land Strategy Phase 2:  Development Costs and Infrastructure Improvements 0.678
  Town Centre Developments 12.500
Jobs, Growth and Housing Total 13.178
Budget Strategy – Unfunded New Burdens Child Sexual Exploitation 0.500
  Living Wage - 2015/16 Part-Year Impact 0.080
  Domiciliary Care - Mandatory Fee Uplift 0.100
Budget Strategy – Unfunded New Burdens Total 0.680
Budget Strategy - Sustainability Accommodation for Adults with Disabilities (Field Lane) 0.194
  Extra Care Housing – Stockbridge Village 1.790
  Investment in Assistive Technology 0.489
  Leisure Alternative Delivery Model 3.500
Budget Strategy - Sustainability Total 5.973
Grand Total   25.646