Knowsley Council’s £34 million challenge

Published on: Monday, 24-November-2014

Knowsley Council has confirmed that it is facing a £34 million budget deficit due to ongoing cuts to its funding from the Government.

Despite saving £60 million since 2010 and reducing its workforce by a quarter, a further £34 million needs to be found over the next two years.

Every Council service area has been challenged to come up with proposals to make these savings, which are likely to mean further reductions in the workforce.

Councillor Ron Round, Leader of Knowsley Council, said “Knowsley’s funding has been cut more than any other council in the country and as a result we are having to consider significant changes to the way we provide our services.  Indeed, in some cases we will have to decide whether we are able to continue to deliver them at all.  We will also have to consider reducing our own workforce in order to meet the level of savings we require.”

Currently, two thirds of the Council’s funding comes from Government Grants – and that is what is being cut so drastically.  The Council is therefore looking at ways it can become less reliant on Government funding.  This includes accelerating house building to generate more Council Tax income (which currently only amounts to a fifth of the funding needed to run Council services) and encouraging more businesses into Knowsley or expanding existing business to generate more Business Rates income.

So far, the Council has been able to protect frontline services and the savings made to date have been achieved through reducing management costs, becoming more efficient, and reducing the size of the Council’s workforce.  However, more savings need to be made due to the scale of the funding cuts imposed by the Government.  The Council simply does not have enough funding to continue running the same level of services with the same number of staff.

In order to identify where savings can be made, a thorough review has been undertaken of the Council’s services and how it delivers them, together with looking at income generation opportunities and how the Council can work better with partner agencies.  However, this challenge is getting harder, so to achieve the required savings, the Council is now encouraging everyone in Knowsley – staff, residents, businesses, and partners – to help by working together.

There are a number of ways everyone can help – recycling more could save £500,000 per year on landfill costs, using online Council services and stopping flytipping and littering could each save £1 million per year, recruiting 25 more fosters carers could reduce children in care costs by £1 million, and helping 125 older people to remain independent in their own homes could save up to £500,000 per year.  In addition, shopping locally would not only grow the local economy, but it would also create more jobs for local people.

Councillor Round added, “Based on the Government’s own figures, our funding will be cut permanently by £172 per household next year, while the average reduction across the whole of England will be just £37 per household.  The fact that this Government is making such savage cuts to one of the most deprived areas of the country is nothing short of a disgrace.  Nevertheless, we will continue to lobby the Government for the cuts to be more evenly distributed.  At the same, I encourage our local communities to come together to help us make the small changes which really can make a big difference.”