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Published: Monday, 12th December 2022

Oldham Council’s Cabinet has been updated on budget plans for the next two financial years.

Councillors were told it is estimated the local authority will have to find £27.975m of savings in 2023/24.

A further shortfall of £14.575m is predicted for the following year – a total of £42.55m.

Work is going on throughout the organisation to find the savings and will continue for the next two years.

The council is still waiting to hear what its annual funding settlement from the government will be.

This is money provided by the government that goes towards supporting local services.

Oldham Council is currently still reliant on the Government for around half of its funding so it is a vital element of the council’s financial strategy. 

Funding in recent years has not kept pace with the needs of the Council and this means the Council has even less money to support residents, including the most vulnerable.

Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, said: “Setting a budget is never easy and this year we have faced added financial pressures.

“Rising fuel and energy costs, an increase in the Living Wage, greater demand for services following Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis, have all had a significant impact on our budget planning.

“However, despite this funding gap we still need to protect and carry on delivering vital services residents rely on, such as social services and the emptying of bins.

“The council must also have the ability to invest in our key regeneration projects that will have a positive impact on the local economy.

“There are no easy answers to be found – we must balance the books.

“We are being honest and open with residents, staff and organisations we work with – at this stage all realistic options that cut costs or produce income will be looked at.

“Thanks to years of sound financial management, we do have plans in place to bridge the gap and we are currently working to firm up these proposals.

“There is no getting around it, tough decisions will have to be made. Decisions we don’t want to make – especially at a time when we are all being hit in the pocket due to the cost-of-living crisis.”

In the new year the council will be holding a public budget consultation.

Residents will be able to give their views on a range of measures designed to save money.

Cllr Jabbar added: “We would urge everyone to get involved and take part in the consultation when it goes live. Your input will help shape our final plans

“I must stress that no final decisions about potential savings have been made.

“We will be looking at a wide range of options before anything is finally agreed.

“We are open to new ideas and we’ll consult with staff, service users, partners and the unions before anything is decided.

“But doing nothing is not an option due to the financial challenge we face.”

Final approval of the budget for 2023/24 and 2024/25 will go to Budget Full Council on March 1.

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