Sandwell Council is carrying out further consultation with the public on how to make savings to its budget over the coming years. As a Sandwell-based business representative, don’t forget to have your say in the online survey.
Sandwell Council held an initial budget consultation earlier this year. Now it is inviting residents, businesses and voluntary organisations to take part in a further consultation on areas where the council can save money.
Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Councillor Bob Piper said: “The council is facing similar pressure to residents from inflation and rising costs. The cost of living emergency is also creating more demand for some council services. This means that we need to make difficult decisions when the council sets its budget.
Making choices about delivering services
“We currently spend around £317 million each year on our day-to-day services, such as bin collections, street cleansing, running libraries and leisure centres. And around 60 per cent of our budget funds vital services for adult social care and looking after vulnerable children. We must meet our legal requirements, but we can make choices in how we deliver some of these services.
“Sandwell is no different to other councils – we all face significant financial pressures. Although we are in a fortunate position to have options to achieve a balanced budget, this still means we need to make difficult decisions. We need to use our limited resources as efficiently as we can, which means we have to work even harder to continue to deliver services and make the money go further for the years ahead.
“In the past two years, the council has worked hard to make savings of over £30 million.
“The council must make savings of £13 million to ensure we can balance our budget for the next financial year (2024/25). The majority of these savings must be sustainable – so we can continue make these savings over the coming years, not just next year.”
Understanding residents’ priorities
The council’s initial 2024/25 budget consultation, that took place over the summer, saw residents rank their priorities for how the council could achieve savings or increase income, as follows:
- Selling or developing council buildings
- Stopping or reducing non-essential services
- Charging more for some paid-for services
- Introducing more charging for non-essential services
- Increasing council tax.
This further consultation will ask more questions about the areas where Sandwell Council can make savings.
Councillor Piper added: “It’s important to us that we consult residents on how the council makes these vital savings. When the consultation closes, we will consider the responses we receive and bring a further report back to the council’s cabinet, before setting the council’s budget in early 2024. The council’s budget will, of course, be influenced by the chancellor’s autumn statement in late November and the Local Government Finance Settlement later in the year.”
The consultation closes on Tuesday 2 January 2024.