WIRRAL Council’s Chief Executive Graham Burgess tells News readers of the financial challenges ahead
THIS is a time of unprecedented change for Wirral Council – change that will have far reaching implications for the residents that we serve. The council has been through some much-publicised, difficult times.
I was brought in by council leaders to improve the way in which the council does business and to ensure residents get the excellent, value for money, services you deserve.
At the same time, in common with other councils across England and Wales – particularly in the North, we face tough decisions about how we will make significant cuts to our budget.
Increased demand for our services, such as a growing elderly population coupled with shrinking government grant, means that we will have to reduce our net revenue budget by a third, around £109million, over the next three years. This simply cannot be achieved without changing the very nature of how we deliver services to residents.
We have started with ourselves. The decision has already been made to reduce senior and middle management by a third; including getting rid of 11 of our most senior officer posts. We are working towards sharing back office services with other councils and reducing the amount we spend our buildings, IT and procurement.
Unfortunately this will not be enough, and some really tough decisions have to be taken over the coming months. The What Really Matters consultation taking place across the borough is the biggest ever undertaken in Wirral.
The options being put forward can be broadly placed into three categories: Families and Wellbeing; Regeneration and Environment; and Transformation and Resources. Today I would like to highlight our plans for the future of the services that we provide to children, adults and families.
The protection of Wirral’s most vulnerable residents – children, adults and families – is the biggest responsibility we have as a council. We simply cannot continue afford to deliver services in the same way in the future so it is vital that we are clear about which of these services are essential in order to meet that duty.
Increasing numbers of Wirral residents require services for older and vulnerable people. This presents vast challenges for social care – challenges that are currently a matter of national debate.
In addition, increasing numbers of our children require additional help and safeguarding. In order to meet the future needs of these vulnerable residents we must, in my view, ensure we target our investment in good quality services to those who need our support the most.
To date, we have received over 5,000 responses to our consultation on the future of council services. I urge all Wirral News readers to take part and have your say too.
The consultation closes on January 31 and you can pick up a form from any council library or One Stop Shop – or access the consultation at: www.wirral.gov.uk/ whatreallymatters