AS West Lancashire Borough Council faces pressure on its finances due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and a decade of government funding cuts it is asking residents for ideas on how it can save money to balance its books.
When coronavirus hit, the council set up additional services to support residents and local businesses during the crisis, including a ‘food hub’ for vulnerable families and grants for businesses.
Essential services such as refuse and recycling also faced extra costs due to crews needing to protective equipment.
A council spokesperson said: “These costs have come at a time when our own income, from services such as assisting with planning applications and leisure revenue (like swimming pools) has dropped.
“We have also faced a decade of substantial reductions in central government funding.
“As a result of all of this we need to work hard on behalf of all our residents to ‘balance the books’ as we keep moving towards being a sustainable council.
“As we shape our 2022/23 budget, which will include setting council tax levels for that year, we want to hear your views on how you think we can save money and increase income through our public consultation.
“To allow us to maintain our current levels of service, we are looking at all of our services to see where we can save money or increase our income to close the gap in our budget.”
Councillor Adam Yates, cabinet member for resources and transformation, said: “We were honoured to provide extra services during the pandemic alongside our other essential work to support people living and working in the borough.
“But this has had a major impact on our finances.
“The government has not provided full compensation to councils such as ours to cover the costs of the pandemic, nor to cover the drop in income from the closure of our leisure centres and restrictions on other services.
“As a result, we need to look at our financial position and make some important decisions on how we continue to maintain our services.
“Your contribution is really important to us and will be one of the factors taken into account when we set our budgets for next year and subsequent years.”
West Lancashire Borough Council only receives around 11% of the council tax paid to them by local residents.
Most of the money raised through council tax goes to Lancashire County Council to provide services such as education, highways (including repairing potholes) and adult care services.
All feedback and comments are welcomed before the closing date of July 9.
People can access it at westlancs.citizenspace. com/engagement/budget-consultation-2022-23.
The survey should take about ten minutes to complete. If you would prefer a copy of the survey in paper format, contact email@example.com or via its customer services team.