THE Government is considering a plea from Wirral Council to be able to borrow more money to “tide it over” while it deals with an array of financial problems.
Party leaders met with the Parliamentary undersecretary of state Nick Boles MP to discuss what “flexibilities” are possible.
The council is currently consulting over how it will implement cuts to deal with a projected budget deficit of £109m over the next three years.
The council wants to “capitalise” the cost of anticipated redundancies. It has clashed with unions over plans to reduce redundancy payments and this option could allow a deal to be made.
But the authority also faces a massive bill from legal action over equal pay and last month it was revealed that between £5m to £15m of “toxic debts” could add to the authority’s budget woes.
Other problems were outlined in a briefing note from the council called “Items to discuss with Government concerning Wirral Council’s funding difficulties”.
It also highlighted the need to correct a shortfall of £1.4m in 2012-13 education funding due to an earlier council blunder, but pointed to recent savings achieved through cutting management and sharing back office functions.
Following the meeting at the department of communities and local government, which was arranged by Wirral West MP Esther McVey, who also attended, council leader Phil Davies said: “I have been very clear that I will go anywhere and talk to anyone about the potential impact the Government’s plans for tackling the deficit will have on council services and the residents of Wirral.
“I would like to thank Esther McVey for arranging the meeting and I am encouraged that the minister both recognised the scale of the budget challenge facing the council and by his commitment to allow his civil servants to work with us to explore what flexibilities could be made available to us.”
Cllr Jeff Green, leader of Wirral’s Conservative group, added: “I was impressed that the minister was so engaged in the process and took the time to listen to our plans to resolve our current financial problems.”
Cllr Tom Harney, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Mr Boles appeared to have a good understanding of our predicament and I am optimistic that he will work with his fellow ministers to find a way forward.
“It is a question of making sure we have the cash to cash to continue running the authority.”