FOLLOWING the latest announcement of government cuts St Helens Council are proposing a two per cent rise in council tax for 2014-15.
Barrie Grunewald says the council is “running on fumes” following the news that there will be further cuts of £25m to the budget over the next two years.
In the face of swingeing cuts imposed by the coalition the council says they have been working to balance the books to continue to provide vital local services.
Between 2010 and 2016 there will be a reduction in grants of 53 per cent amounting to £65m.
A sombre Grunewald said: “The light at the end of the tunnel just gets further away. The latest grant settlement has piled on the misery for St Helens.
“The 2014 figures include a general grant reduction of £10.8 million which equates to a 13 per cent cut. However the 2015-16 is even worse, with cuts of a further £14.1 million meaning that we are looking at an additional 20 per cent reduction.
“The impact on council services will be significant but, as always, we will be ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our community are shielded from the worst effects of the cuts.”
However it means that some services will be reduced as the council looks to make further savings.
The way it delivers services and the way it buys in services have all come under the microscope as it seeks to maximise value for money.
A council spokesperson claims that St Helens residents still enjoy one of the lowest council tax rates both in the North West and across the country.
The rise will mean an extra 30p a week for the average band A household.
A consultation process is underway with residents and stakeholders on the council’s budget proposals, with people able to make their views known through the website sthelens.gov.uk or picking up a special budget questionnaire from their local library.