Budget Reductions Looming- But Still Looking Forward….!

Whilst there are some Local Authorities around us here in Wolverhampton which have not prepared in the same way this City has done – to the ongoing Government austerity programme aimed at Local Government.

We here in Wolverhampton are still set to see a lot of pain in the forthcoming municipal year.

I give credit to Leader Roger Lawrence and the City Cabinet for steering us away from the ‘maelstrom’ that is now gripping other West Midlands Authorities. We took our action early in 2010/11, and we know how our sister authorities are feeling now, and yes we feel there searing pain of losing jobs and seeing service cuts affecting their local communities.

Wolverhampton its worth remembering had to identify budget reductions of more than £200m in response to cuts in Government funding and increased costs of and demand for our services. That was not easy and it came with a lot of pain for both the public we serve and the politicians that had to direct the budget reductions.

This is however still a forward looking administration. Yes we have our problems, and like most of us in our family lives we occasionally have fall outs!

But to the Labour Groups credit they have been very focussed on the requirements of the future as well as the exigencies of today. Politically it’s important that the Labour Party places the blame for our situation clearly where it is due.

This darn Conservative Government is still pursuing austerity measures, even when the Local Government services are more than squeaking across the UK. When the Police are so starved of resources they have to pray for rain to dampen criminal and anti-social behaviour! When the NHS is rocking badly, and when Council housing demand and the shortage of affordable housing is at an all time high.

The Wolverhampton Labour administration is currently analysing the required Budget savings of £14.8million which is now needed for 2018/19, so we can balance the budget as the law insists we do. That is a big deal now for this Wolverhampton Administration.

The current Leadership here in the City and the Labour Group whilst identifying some £12.8m of budget for reduction proposals, still requires for us to find £2.3m to set a balanced budget for next year. Then of course we have 2019/2020 year to plan for – But that is another story!

August is always traditionally a month when Committee meeting do not take place, and City Council staff and Councillors have a bit of a respite from meetings. But we are all very aware and very exercised about the future financial problems of the City Council, and we are all of us in the Labour Group here doing our very best to find a way forward. However do not think because we have hard economics in front of us, that we will not have an eye to the future. Of course we will.

We want to tackle this Government, and its imperative we do so with the full backing of the City. We need the public on our side. I also feel that I want to keep Wednesfield on our side too….!I hope that you find August warm and sunny, and that this holiday month is kind to you as families and individuals.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more