BUDGET LAYS OUT LARGEST CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN ST HELENS BOROUGH

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The largest capital investment ever made supporting regeneration across St Helens Borough is a key part of the council’s budget.

More than £203 million will be invested over the next three years across St Helens Borough as part of St Helens Borough Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan which is set to go to Council for approval next month.

The council’s Cabinet also heard how the budget for 2024/25 will ensure that delivering essential services will be the focus of the next 12 months, in spite of the less than expected funding allocation from Central Government. 

The financial settlement from Central Government fell well short of what is needed to fund essential services like social care and children’s services. With the settlement only covering one year it also makes it difficult to make longer term plans for services, yet despite this, the council will continue to find ways to innovate and work more efficiently.

Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “Over the next three years we will make the largest investment the council has ever made. Boosting growth in the borough will help us make a once-in-a-generation transformation, delivering everything our borough needs, from new jobs, business opportunities, new homes and much more.

“While we are committing to this investment, which will come through capital funding we will also be committed to delivering the key services that our residents depend on, we are here for residents from the cradle to the grave and step in to help at critical points throughout life and that will continue. We will be bringing our medium-term financial plan to Council in March which will outline how we will continue to support residents with our remaining budget, focussing on key services and the delivery of these in an efficient and effective manner.  

“While Central Government state that the settlement delivers an increase of core spending power nationally of 7.5 per cent, although this is based on them expecting us to increase Council Tax by 4.99 per cent which means it impacts on residents. This is also lower than the past two years and does not keep pace with the demands of pressures like children’s and adult social care. This means that our budget gap will continue to rise with the projected gap to grow to £14.1m over the next three years so long as we continue to see pressures that we have little control over such as placement costs increase. Our Medium Term Financial Plan will address how we will deal with this increase, but this is why we would like to have longer term funding settlements from Central Government to help us plan properly for the future. 

“This leaves us in a place where we have to evaluate how we can deliver the vital services, which might not always be easy decisions to make. Though it is important to remember the work we do will continue to do day in day out, from emptying your bins, cleaning streets, repairing potholes, providing support for people to live independently and protecting the most vulnerable.” 

The Medium Term Financial Plan and 2024/25 budget plans are set to go before Council on 6th March.

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