25 January 2024

Budget proposals

Blackpool Council has today published budget saving proposals for 2024/25.

Blackpool Council logo on a purple background
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Blackpool Council has today published budget saving proposals for 2024/25.

In the financial year 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025 a saving of £16.2 million is required. There are three key underlying reasons for the ongoing financial pressures: budget cuts, inflation and rising demand.

Since 2010 central government funding for Blackpool Council has reduced by £218 million this equates to a real term cut of 25.4%. These cuts have come at the same time as costs have increased and demand has risen, placing significant pressure on budgets.

Inflation over the past year has remained high and monies received from central government have not been increased by the same percentage leading to a real-term cut in funding. High inflation has also resulted in increases in energy costs and costs of providing support in both Adults and Children’s services.

Rising demand for services is continuing to place pressure on the Council’s budget, particularly in adult social care, children’s services, SEND transport and provision of temporary accommodation and homelessness. This rising demand for services is even greater in Blackpool due to our levels of deprivation.

In order to achieve this deficit all directorates will be required to make efficiency savings including renegotiation of external contracts, increased income generation and reduced spend on supplies and services. Employees will also be asked to take a minimum of five days unpaid leave

As a result of efforts made throughout the year the number of staff at risk of losing their job is in single figures. Over the last year, there has been increased scrutiny into the recruitment of new staff. When an employee leaves the authority, they are not automatically replaced. A panel of senior officers review every recruitment request with only essential roles receiving approval. The proposed budget sees more than 50 roles either frozen or removed.

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said:

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: “Our proposed budget prioritises keeping our residents safe and receiving the right support at the right time. “Despite the lack of funding for local authorities and the level of cuts we have faced here in Blackpool we are still investing in the things that mean the most to our residents. “We are making it a priority to protect services such as libraries, park, leisure centres, public protection and waste. We will also continue to deliver all of the free events that our residents enjoy and provide a huge boost to our economy. “I am really proud to be able to say that we are investing the most we have invested in Youth Services in 15 years, we continue to pay the real living wage for all our staff and have stuck to our commitment to do the same for our care workers. Our free school breakfast initiative is going strong and is now in its 11th year. “We are seeing some positive outcomes in Children’s Services with a steady reduction of the number of children in care. Evidence shows us that when we can keep families together, it this has a lifelong positive impact on their outcomes and opportunities. This also has a knock-on effect in legal services where we have seen the associated costs reduced. Our focus on recruitment has also seen positive news with a significant reduction in agency staff employed by the council, creating a more stable, sustainable workforce and delivering continuity for our families. “Children’s Social care represents 36% of the Council’s revenue spend but these measures are helping to tackle the financial challenges that ourselves and so many other local authorities face. “This year, the number of staff placed at risk is in single figures. However, freezing or removing vacant posts will undoubtedly have an impact on the remaining workforce and the level of service that we are able to provide. At a time when demand is going up, we are taking resource out which does not sit well with anyone. This is particularly concerning in Adult Services where the ageing population is putting increasing pressure on our services and those of our partners. Regardless of the pressures we face, we will always put local residents first ensuring they receive the care and support they need. “Every year I keep saying that we need the Government to provide us with a sustainable way of setting our budget but year-on-year nothing changes. Since the last four-year settlement ended in 2019/20 we have had to plan based on a one-year settlement. This makes it incredibly difficult to plan and predict the future, this needs to be addressed.”
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The council’s executive will discuss the budget proposals on Monday 5 February at 6.00pm.