Wolverhampton City Council is today (Monday October 24 2011) launching its biggest ever budget consultation as it asks the public what services they want to keep and improve in the face of unprecedented national public spending cuts.

A combination of rising costs, increased demand for services and cuts in the council’s main source of funding – Government Grants – means the council needs to make £7.8 million savings to balance the budget in 2012/2013.  The shortfall reduces to £1.9 million by 2013/14 but then rises to £19.8 million by 2016/17 assuming savings are made.  However, the challenge could be as large as £71.5 million by 2016/17 if no action is taken.

 

Cabinet member for Resources, Councillor Andrew Johnson said the council could not avoid changes to vital services.  “We’re going to have to make some very tough decisions, so we think it’s only right that we involve the public as much as we possibly can to help us keep and improve what’s most important to the city.

 

“We’re launching today the most wide-ranging budget consultation ever conducted by this council and we want as many people as possible to get involved.

 

“We want their feedback on the wide range of vital services we provide.  We’ll be asking about everything from collecting waste, to meals on wheels, from parks to children’s playgrounds, from reducing crime to repairing roads and much more besides.”

 

Every resident in the city can take part.  Councillor Johnson added:  “We’re providing a variety of ways for people to have their say.  They can do so on an on-line survey by visiting www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/challenge or, if they don’t have access to the internet, they can call our contact centre City Direct on 01902 556556 to ask to take part on the phone.”

The council would also be conducting street interviews with 900 residents in various locations in the city and a further 200 interviews on the phone as well as meetings with groups including business leaders, trades’ unions, third sector organisations, schools, Local Neighbourhood Partnerships, Wolverhampton Partnership and the Youth Council.

The consultation concludes at the end of November and views will inform decisions made by councillors during the budget setting process.

 

Questions and Answers

 

What is the Wolverhampton Challenge?

 

Due to a combination of rising costs in providing services, more demand for services and cuts in the council’s main source of funding – Government Grants –  Wolverhampton City Council needs to identify  £7.8m in savings to balance the 2012 -13 budget. This reduces to £1.9 million by 2013/14 but then rises to £19.8m by 2016/17 assuming savings proposal figures are achieved.

 

The challenge could be as large as £71.5m by 2016/17 if no action is taken.

 

We cannot avoid changes to vital services.  That is why we are asking all of those who live and work in Wolverhampton to take part in the budget consultation process which we’ve called the Wolverhampton Challenge.

 

Why is the council conducting this?

 

Given the tough choices we’ll have to make, we think it makes sense to ask the public to help us to keep and improve what’s most important to the city.  .  Their views will inform the decisions made by councillors during the budget setting process.

 

How long will it go on for?

 

Consultation opens today, Monday October 24 and ends on November 30 2011, though some stakeholder groups may be consulted a few days later.

 

How will people be able to express their views about the budget challenge?

 

We’re planning the most wide-ranging budget consultation ever conducted by this council and want as many people as possible to get involved.

 

People can take part in an on-line survey by visiting www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/challenge or, if they don’t have access to the internet, call our contact centre City Direct on 01902 556556 to ask to take part on the ‘phone.

 

We’re also going out and about to get views.  We’ll be conducting street interviews with 900 residents in various locations in the city and a further 200 interviews on the ‘phone.  Finally, we’ll be organising meetings with groups including business leaders, trades’ unions, third sector organisations, schools, Local Neighbourhood Partnerships, Wolverhampton Partnership and the Youth Council.

 

We’ll also be promoting opportunities to take part in newspaper advertising and social media.

 

How much is the consultation costing?

 

Though we have an ambitious programme of consultation, we’re keeping costs to a minimum – just £12,800, less than a full-page advert in local newspapers.

 

Will public views be published?

 

There will be feedback on the issues raised during the consultation and the influence they’ve had on the council’s decisions.

 

 

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