Local residents are being encouraged by the Salford City Council to engage in an interactive conversation to help them cope with budget cuts on services.
‘Talk Budget’ will allow Salford residents to give their feedback on how much they would spend on key services that have faced the biggest cuts in the area.
By 2016, over £170million will have been slashed from the council’s local government funding over a five year period.
With Salford facing 43% of its budget being cut, the city council are aware that it is the local residents that will feel the full force of the financial set back.
City Mayor Ian Stewart said: “That’s why we want to hear about realistic and viable alternatives rather than people simply saying don’t make savings on this or that service.
“I’m afraid in light of the governments reduce grant to Salford this is just not an option.”
The new online interactive budget tool will allow Salfordians to tick options, including recycling more and volunteering, to show how they are prepared to help the council save money and reduce pressure on public services.
Mayor Stewart said: “We now need to make sure that we make the most of what we have and focus on priorities and what matters to our residents.
“That’s also why we’re asking people what they can do to help. For example, the more people can recycle, the less the council has to spend on burying waste in the ground and if people don’t drop litter or clear up their area, The council doesn’t have to spend money on that.
“It means we can focus the reducing and limited resources we have on major issues and services to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
The council have already found ways to generate savings and is working towards finding new options to deal with the cuts.
The local authority is planning a future cooperation with the NHS and other partners to provide more joined up care for older people.
Changes to bin collection cycles, as adopted by Bury Council, have also been calculated to potentially save Salford £2.5million.
The mayor also affirmed the council’s motivation to avoid compulsory staff redundancies by not filling vacant posts, voluntary redundancies or early retirement.
Mr Stewart also stressed on the fact that Salford is one of the few cities with zero increase in council tax.
He said: “Many other councils have most of their houses in the higher council tax bands and can therefore raise more money for their budget than Salford.
“In Salford, the majority of our houses are in the lower council tax bands and we raise a smaller part of our annual budget from council tax than many other councils.
“And we have less money coming in from business rates than many other local authorities.”
The conversation will run until Sunday January 4. All comments will be taken into account before firm proposals are drawn up.
A public consultation will take place before any final decisions are made.
Image courtesy of Brad Flickinger, with thanks.