Every Herefordshire resident is likely to be affected by changes to Herefordshire Council’s services outlined in its proposed budget for 2014/15.
The council has to make savings of £15m next year in order to balance its budget. This comes on top of savings made over the past few years. The council faces an increase in demand for services and other increases in costs, while its funding from central government decreases.
The council’s priorities are, within the resource available to it, to: keep children and young people safe, and give them a great start in life, enable residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives, and invest in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes.
To meet its priorities the council plans to encourage individuals, communities and organisations do more for themselves and for their local area, radically reduce the costs, breadth and level of services it provides and ensure the services that it does provide are cost effective.
The council has published a document showing how it would meet its priorities while saving £15m and is asking local people to help it to understand the impact of the proposals on particular groups in the county.
The consultation is available at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/budget2014, responses can be made online, or the document may be downloaded. Paper copies and alternative versions are available on request.
The consultation closes on 20December 2013. The council will do its best to take responses into account even if they are received after this date. The budget will be agreed on 7 February 2013.
Councillor Tony Johnson, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “Let me be absolutely clear we no longer have the income to pay for all the services traditionally provided by the council. We must therefore prioritise, and this consultation will guide our decisions in that process.
“All local authorities are reducing services as the government has indicated that it will continue to significantly reduce the funding it provides to local government across England. Government funding is being cut by over 40% in the worst cases. Herefordshire is one of the hardest hit authorities.
"This is a not an easy budget and it will impact on everyone in Herefordshire. The key purpose of this consultation is to help us better understand the impact of what we propose.
"As a result of our assessment of the impact we will look at how we can change the budget to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure we apply services as fairly as possible.
"I urge everyone to read these budget proposals and respond to the consultation."