At tonight’s Council meeting, Members were updated on £14.6m of permanent investment in service budgets to deal with growth, extra demand, and inflationary costs. On top of that, a further £10.4m of investment in key areas was also approved.
The investments have been made possible thanks to robust financial management and decision making, the Council’s ambitious growth plans for the Borough, increasing income from Council Tax thanks to accelerating their housing plans and the 100% retention of business rates.
Of the newly announced investment £5.3m will be invested immediately – of which £1.3m will fund permanent investment into key service areas including:-
- Supporting and delivering vibrant Town Centres – including permanent funding to enable free short and long stay town centre car parking across the Borough.
- Additional street scene services, improved maintenance and use of parks and green spaces, and the development of additional allotments. This will take our net spending on these areas to over £10m a year.
- Counselling services for children affected by domestic abuse.
- Extra capacity to support children in the Council’s Residential Children’s Homes, which will take our annual spending on supporting vulnerable children up to £30m per year.
The remaining immediate investment will fund one-off initiatives including:-
- £1.0m to employ and train new Social Workers.
- £1.0m to address health inequalities which have been made worse by the pandemic.
- £0.3m to provide family support workers to support children affected by domestic abuse.
- £0.3m to increase fostering capacity.
- £0.220m to support vulnerable children and families.
- £0.250m for grants to community / voluntary organisations to help in addressing Council Plan priorities.
- £0.500m to bolster the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, which has been a lifeline to so many residents through out the pandemic.
The balance of the £10.4m newly announced investment will be used to create a Future Investment Fund of over £5m, providing the flexibility needed to fund future priorities including:-
- Tackling the Climate Emergency and our net zero targets
- Supporting our COVID-19 Recovery
- Ensuring high class Education in our Borough
- Investing in our Parks and Green Spaces
- Continuing our inclusive regeneration
- Supporting our Town Centres
This will help to fund the Council’s contribution to the Knowsley Offer, which further strengthens the Knowsley Better Together approach by bringing people and organisations together for the benefit of Knowsley and its people. The Knowsley Offer will be developed over the coming months, working with residents, businesses and partners to identify the support needed to help our communities to thrive. “Supporting Knowsley’s people and communities to thrive” is the Knowsley Council Plan vision, which has also been approved at tonight’s Council meeting.
Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said “Thanks to our ambitious growth plans, robust financial management and decision making, we are in a very fortunate position to be able to announce this investment package tonight.
“It has been a particularly challenging two years and allocating these investments to support our recovery, our residents, our businesses and the wider borough is of paramount importance to us.
“We know that they will have the biggest impact and will support our communities and the Borough to move forward after two years of stop / start that has been created by the pandemic.
“We are moving into the new financial year in a very positive position.”