Wyre Forest District Council is inviting people who live in, work in or visit the district to help shape major budget decisions as it looks to close the gap between its expenditure and income by £2 million.

The council is facing some tough decisions over the next few years and cannot continue to provide the same number or quality of services it has done in the past.

The amount of money Wyre Forest District Council receives from central Government has almost halved in the last 10 years, falling from £8.4m in 2009 to £4.3m in 2019. To carry on doing all the things it currently does the council would need a budget of £12.3m in 2020 – it has only £10.5m.

The council gets some money for services from council tax, but the majority of money paid by residents each year goes to other organisations, such as Worcestershire County Council, police and fire services. Wyre Forest District Council keeps just 12p in every pound collected.

Before detailed budget proposals for next year are drawn up the council is inviting local people to complete a short survey that will help influence how it will achieve the savings required.

There are some services the council has to provide by law. These include setting planning policy, deciding planning applications, running elections, clearing away domestic waste, administering benefits,  tackling homelessness and collecting business rates and council tax to fund a host of public services. 

At the moment the council also provides additional services (known as discretionary services), such as offering support to businesses, building control and organising leisure events. Some discretionary services, such as garden and trade waste services, create income which helps support frontline services. Others play a major part in delivering the council’s priorities.

Council Leader Councillor Graham Ballinger said: “It’s a really difficult balancing act – do we stop doing some of the things we have in the past or do we reduce the quality of some services? There are some things we have no choice about doing, but do we do them differently or less often?

“We would like the public to help influence these difficult questions and I hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to fill in the survey. Their responses will help guide our decisions over the coming years.”

The budget survey is now live at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/budgetsurvey2020 and will close at 5pm on Monday 18 November, 2019. Results from the survey will feed into a report on the Medium Term Financial Strategy at the Cabinet’s meeting in December.

The budget consultation follows on from a major public consultation held during the summer when more than 1,700 people took the opportunity to say what the council should prioritise over the next four years. The majority of people said they wanted us to focus more on housing, the environment and local economy and these now feature in a new Corporate Plan which runs from 2019 until 2023.

*Paper copies of the survey are available from The Hub at Green Street, Kidderminster and Wyre Forest House.