People in Leeds will be able to give their views on how the city council should prioritise its spending by taking part in a new consultation exercise.
The council has launched its annual consultation exercise which explains how the responses from more than 2,000 residents who took part last year shaped the current budget while it also looks forward to next year.
Last year’s budget consultation challenged those taking part to achieve savings of £40million as part of the council’s drive to achieve £200m of real-terms budget reductions in a three-year period to March 2014 due to grant cuts and increased cost pressures.
The new consultation reflects on the choices made last year, and asks those taking part if such decisions and priorities should remain the focus for the 2014/15 budget, where further savings of at least £36m due to government grant reductions will need to be made.
The results last year called for a focus on supporting child-related services and investing in funding support for families with children with special needs.
Adult social care was also indicated as an area of priority, with an additional £2.3m funding given to help older or vulnerable people stay in their own homes and live happier, longer and healthier lives.
Other areas of focus identified were on closer ties between services, increased recycling and kerbside food collections, maintaining community safety levels, investing in jobs and skills, improved housing management and more affordable housing.
Areas where savings could be made were in staffing levels, with the council spending £50m less on employees while protecting frontline services wherever possible, and reducing the number of council office buildings to cut property management costs by £6.2m.
This year’s consultation will ask if those areas are still right to focus on, or whether other areas should now become priorities such as investing in the city’s infrastructure or in a stronger cultural offer.
The consultation will run until the end of September and can be completed at www.leeds.gov.uk/budget. Those who would prefer to complete a paper version of the challenge can do so at any council-managed library or one-stop centre in the city.
The responses will form part of the council’s annual budget review and will be taken into account when the budget is finalised in February.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:
“This year’s budget consultation has two elements – showing people how they directly impacted on last year’s budget priorities, but also importantly asking 12 months on if they still feel the same way as to the areas the council should focus on.
“It is hugely important for as many people as possible to let us know their thoughts and what council services are most important to them. Again we face an incredibly difficult challenge in setting next year’s budget in the face of continued reductions in government grants, but a strong indication from the public of what we should do will give us a great start to that process.”
For more information on the council budget and ways to have your say visit www.leeds.gov.uk/budget