Home Knowsley Council The Council’s budget

The Council’s budget

by Guy Murphy

This article was originally published on 29 November 2021

As you will be aware, the Council has been managing Government funding cuts for a number of years and more recently, it has also had to manage additional costs incurred throughout the pandemic.

Between 2010 and 2020, Knowsley Council was one of the hardest hit local authorities in the country. The Government has cut the Council’s grant funding by 50%, meaning the Council has had to find £100m worth of savings.

Given the increases in demand for our services, our budget should have gone up by over 25% – not cut by 50%.

However, despite these very challenging times, the Council continues to provide more than 700 local services that residents and businesses need and rely on. This includes looking after vulnerable people, keeping our streets clean, running library services, emptying bins and building safer communities.

Throughout the pandemic, new services were also created including the Knowsley Community Support and Volunteer Hub ensuring residents had access to food, medication, support with dog walking if they had to self-isolation and just someone to talk to, particularly during periods of lockdown when contact with others was restricted.

In additional, thanks to robust financial management, the Council has been able to invest in key services and initiatives that will support the Borough’s recovery from the pandemic and provide the right support at the right time for our residents and businesses. This includes supporting residents into employment, supporting town centres to once again be vibrant through the delivery of an action-packed events programme and providing free short stay parking in Council owned car parks, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, highways maintenance and improving mental health support across the Borough.

The Council’s annual budget is currently £136.8m but do you know how the Council’s budget is funded and how it is spent?

How is the Council budget funded?

Most of the Knowsley’s funding comes from the Government – which allows the Council to keep all of the Business Rates raised in the Borough. This is currently a pilot scheme in the Liverpool City Region, but the Government is considering changing this in future.

The Government also provides a range of Grants which it allocates to local authorities based on its assessment of how much funding the Government thinks the Council needs.

The rest of the funding comes from Council Tax. In recent years, the Government has required local authorities to use Council Tax to help fund key services like Adult Social Care and to cover demand and inflation increases.

How the Council’s budget is spent

As you would expect, the largest proportion of the Council’s budget is allocated to services for Adults and Children. Almost two thirds of the Council’s budget is spent on these services. In 2021/22, the Council has allocated £68m (39%) of its budget on Adult Social Care, helping resident to remain independent and stay in their own home for as long as possible. In addition, £28m (22%) has been allocated to Children’s Services, ensuring that children have the very best start in life and children and families have access to the right support at the right time to help them to thrive.

The rest of the Council’s budget is allocated to support a wide range of other Council services including bin collections, parks and green space maintenance, and targeting crime, anti-social behaviour and environmental crime including fly tipping.

The Council’s budget also supports the Borough’s development and infrastructure including highways maintenance and supporting our town centre regeneration schemes, which is a key priority as we recover from the pandemic.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “For ten years, Knowsley has suffered the biggest funding cuts of any Council in the country. Over the last 18 months, Knowsley has, at times, had the biggest need in terms of our high Covid case numbers being the highest in the country and our vulnerable communities needing more support than ever.

“The Comprehensive Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor last month outlined that total public spending would rise by 3.8% and it is forecast that UK inflation is expected to average 4% over the coming year, so it is unclear how an increase will actually be achieved after inflation and the rapidly rising demand for our services is taken into account.

“This increase in public spending is needed to cover the increased demand for services and costs increases due to rises in the national Minimum Wage, National Insurance Contributions and inflationary costs for fuel, energy, goods and services.

“The Government is requiring Local Councils to fund these costs and demand increases through Council Tax rises. From April 2022, the Government assumes Councils will increase Council Tax by 3% (1% of which is to be ringfenced for Adult Social Care Costs).

“There is no detail at this stage of the allocations to local government and individual Councils and whether the allocation will be based on levels of need and deprivation. Will our communities that are most in need benefit? We await to hear from the Government about our allocations which is likely to be around mid-December as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

“I hope areas like Knowsley, with greater levels of deprivation and needs, are not overlooked and the funding is fairly allocated based on where it is needed the most.”