Oldham Council wants to hear residents’ views on how to tackle the significant budget challenges it faces in the next two years. Major reductions in funding from Central Government mean Oldham has already had to make savings totalling around £100 million in the past five years.
Oldham Council now needs to make a further £31 million in savings by 2015 and they want your help setting budget priorities, and understanding how tough decisions might affect our communities.
A series of events will be held in the coming months where people can have their say across the Borough and help the Council to identify potential savings or find new solutions. The centrepiece of the consultation will be a ‘Big Budget Conversation’ event at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on October 22. Residents will be invited to talk with leadership about services and to take part in an interactive budget exercise. A Budget Roadshow will be at the Spindles Shopping Centre from October 15-21 before visiting other locations. Residents can also have their say via Oldham Council’s website at www.oldham.gov.uk where full information about the budget setting process and how we currently spend our funding is now available.
Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, has also recorded a video-blog outlining the scale of the challenges the Local Authority faces and highlighting the role that residents can play. Councillor McMahon said, “As a Co-operative Borough we have to have an honest conversation between the Council and residents about the serious financial challenges we face. We have no choice but to make these savings and we cannot shy away from the fact that it will mean tough decisions and challenges for local families and communities. Put simply, we can no longer talk about Oldham Council doing more for less. We need to accept that we will now have to deliver less for significantly less money and that is precisely why we need to involve residents in making these difficult decisions.”
Full details of all the budget meeting consultation events and activities can be found online now at www.oldham.gov.uk/budget Feedback from the public will be used to shape and inform the final budget proposals for the financial years 2013/4 and 2014/5 which will go before Full Council in February 2013.
Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Cabinet Member for Finance, Human Resources and Strategic Partnerships, said, “After five years of making significant savings the challenges are only going to get tougher. Like all Local Authorities the economic recession means we’re caught in a ‘perfect storm’ of diminishing resources and increasing demand. That means we have a growing proportion of vulnerable or unemployed residents, but also a significantly reduced budget to help them and deliver around 700 services. With the new Council Tax Benefit reductions to implement – and the challenge of taking on local health provision to come – it is clear we need a meaningful dialogue with our residents.
”As a Co-operative Council we’re campaigning on issues outside of our control to try and mitigate the financial impact on residents such as our campaign for fairer bus fares and the new Oldham Energy Co-operative we have set up, which could save money for everyone.
“I would urge people to please join us in this budget conversation. We need to hear your views to help us minimise the impact of tough decisions on communities and residents’ day-to-day lives.”