Budget consultation - Financial Year 2016-17

Budget consultation - Financial Year 2016-17

Walsall Council sets a budget each year and has to decide how to allocate available money to the wide range of vital services it provides to the community. The budget setting process involves some difficult decisions, which reflect national and local priorities, as well as the needs, wants and aspirations of 270,000 residents. Consultation on the council's purpose and key priorities has now closed.

Find out about consultation on the 2016/17 draft budget here.

Consultation for the 2016/17 draft budget is now closed. All information gathered as part of the consultation process has  been collated and analysed and will be reported to 3 February Cabinet as part of the Corporate Budget Plan and Treasury Management and Investment Strategy 2016/17 (1.5MB .PDF).

The budget is scheduled to be approved at Full Council on 25 February 2016.

Consultation 2% council tax precept for adult social care

In the Government’s Autumn spending review in November 2015, it was announced that Councils will be allowed to increase council tax by up to 2% in order meet shortfalls in adult social care. This increase is in addition to any general increases in Council Tax the authority may also apply. The government in drafting the amount of resources available to local authorities has assumed that Local authorities will not only apply this increase but also increase the base council tax by an average of 1.75% (each year).

Walsall’s draft budget report which was approved by Cabinet on 28 October 2015 detailed a balanced draft budget, subject to consultation, with a proposed general increase in council tax of 1.99%. This is the level allowed by statute before the authority would be required to hold a referendum.

The additional 2% increase is ring fenced and can only be used to fund additional adult social care costs and would raise income of c£1.87m. Adult social care is currently facing on-going budget pressures of c£9m above budget in 2015/16 due to increased demand and changes in demographics. If the additional increase is approved, the money raised will be utilised on priority areas within adult social care across the borough only and not on any other services we provide.

No formal decision will be made on the introduction of the additional 2% precept for adult social care or the general increase in council tax of 1.99% until the final budget is approved by Council on 25 February 2016.

The effect of the 2% precept for adult social care (PDF 42KB) is shown in Table 1, Table 2 shows the combined impact of the 2% precept for adult social care and a 1.99% general increase on council tax bands (total 3.99%).

Have your say - consultation is now closed

Consultation on the introduction of a 2% council tax precept to help fund adult social care services in Walsall concluded on 28 January 2016.

Financial background

How Walsall Council delivers its services to residents across the borough is related directly to the funding it has available.  This funding is secured through two key sources; the amount of money we can raise from council tax and funding from central government (often called grants).

Since 2010, it has been well documented that funding to all councils from central government has been greatly reduced.  In fact, over the last four years, Walsall Council alone has made savings of over £84 million.  However, this persistent pressure to reduce costs is set to continue into 2020, by which time the council must save a further £85 million.

Walsall's financial gap graph

Key facts

  • Walsall Council has already reduced spending in 2015/16 by identifying efficiencies of £29.2m to balance the budget
  • Due to further cuts in funding, further efficiencies of around £84.8m will be required over the next four years
  • The latest information from government shows that national spending totals are forecasted to reduce by 40% by 2020/21. Actual allocations for 2016/17 will not be known until December 2015.

Over the last five years, Walsall council has developed its annual budget with the primary aim of preserving vital services, whilst also meeting its obligation to achieve the required savings.  Every year this task is becoming increasingly difficult.  Choices are becoming limited, because there are statutory services that the council has to protect by law such as looking after our elderly and protecting and safeguarding young people and children.  We also have a legal requirement to provide certain leisure and community services, too.   So how and where we spend money is becoming very challenging indeed.

We are now setting our budget for 2016/17 and must again draft a balanced budget proposal with £25 million less.  In this dire economic climate, now more than ever, we need your involvement as decisions made now will determine how we deliver services in the future.

Undoubtedly, these are difficult times and difficult decisions will have to be made.   The levels of Council service provision will inevitably change. Some services will no longer be available.  This is why your views are central to the final budget decisions to be made in February 2016.   As your council, we will remain committed to delivering services you need in a way that offers both value for money and preserves services for those who are most in need.

Listening and responding to the views of residents is key to our budget setting process.  No final decisions on spending have been made so far, but what is not negotiable is the total budget figure which cannot change.

Council purpose and priorities

The council will focus on the following key purpose and priorities over the next 4 years, within the constraints of decreasing resources.

Our purpose:  

Improve lives and life chances for everyone who lives and works in the Borough of Walsall and, in so doing, minimise the help that residents need from the state.

Our priorities:

  • Supporting business to thrive and supporting local people into work;
  • Improving health and well being, including independence for older people and the protection of vulnerable people;
  • Creating safe, sustainable and inclusive communities;
  • Improving safeguarding, learning and the life chances for children and young people, raising aspirations;
  • Create a modern, dynamic and efficient workforce designed around what residents need.

We asked for your views on the council’s purpose and priorities. Your feeback will be used to help finalise the council’s corporate priorities and budget for 2016/17 and beyond. You can read about the council’s spending priorities and corporate priorities here. Consultation on our purpose and priorities has now closed and will be reported to 16 December Cabinet.

The closing date for responses was 22 November 2015.

Draft budget proposals - Service change consultation

Details of the draft budget are contained in the ‘Resource Allocation 2016/17 to 2019/20: Draft Revenue Budget for Consultation’, reported to Cabinet on 28 October 2015. This report outlines plans for future service delivery, including proposals to meet funding reductions and cost pressures in 2016/17 - 2017/18.

To inform the draft budget, services have been consulting on draft proposals that involve a change in policy or service.  For ease of reference you can read just the draft proposals that involve a change in policy / service here (.PDF 370KB) (savings which total £8,270,084 in 2016/17 and £9,461,554 in 2017/18). Full details of each proposal can be found in the Cabinet report above.

Services have been consulting service users and other stakeholders to understand views on the proposed changes, as well as understand the potential impact and to seek alternative solutions. Click here for details of consultation activity that has taken place.

Feedback from consultation will be reported to Cabinet for consideration in advance of any decisions being made, with the final budget set to be agreed on 25 February 2016.

This page was last updated on 27 July 2016