Councillors approved the financial plan at Council on Wednesday evening as the council looks to balance the books for 2021/22.
Labour Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance, said: “Last year we said it was the most challenging budget we had to set in a number of years, but we could not have envisaged what we would have had to endured with the pandemic. We know that people have been hit incredibly hard by this virus, and that too has had an effect on us as a council.
“Asking people to give more through Council Tax is not easy and we understand so many have been affected by the pandemic. There is support available for those who are struggling so please speak to us. But I can reassure you that as a council we are seriously addressing how we can make the council more cost effective and self sufficient through our commercial strategy which will come to Cabinet later this month. If we are successful in this it will hopefully relieve the pressures on our finances we currently face and in turn reduce the pressures on our communities.”
David Baines, Labour leader of St Helens Borough Council, says: “We’ve had two budgets today. One from the Tory government which didn’t mention ‘care’ once, and one from Labour for our borough which commits to protecting our most vulnerable residents and delivering significant investment for local projects.
Only Labour have a clear, ambitious and deliverable plan for the borough and that’s made obvious by the fact that no opposition councillor proposed any changes or offered any suggestions about the budget or priorities.”
The Government is allowing councils to use a three per cent precept on council tax that goes specifically to fund social care which St Helens Council will introduce along with a 1.99 per cent council tax rise, which will also go towards supporting the most in need in St Helens Borough. St Helens Borough will still have the lowest Council Tax in Merseyside.
Finding ways to get certain services operating and generating enough income to make them cost neutral means that vital revenue funding can be put towards areas of high needs such as children and adult social care. Other projects include generating income through the use of advertising across the borough.
This work will sit alongside reviews of the way the council can deliver services differently, more collaboration with partners and communities and reviewing existing contracts with providers
Find out more about support with Council Tax payments here: https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/council-tax/reduce-your-bill/