Liberal Democrats look ahead to setting a “no surprises” budget

Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council are looking ahead to setting the Council’s budget later this week after many months of preparation and cross-party work through the Scrutiny Committees.

Speaking ahead of Thursday night’s meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Council and of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “Everybody knows just how challenging the financial situation is for local authorities at the moment as the Conservative government continues to provide inadequate funding to deliver essential services our residents rely on.

“With headlines about councils such as Birmingham ‘going bankrupt’, and neighbouring councils like Cheshire East in the news amid warnings of having inadequate reserves, I am pleased that Stockport Council has such a well-established and mature approach to sound financial management and budget setting, with all parties engaged positively in delivering the very best for our borough that we can afford.

“We are not in the same difficulties as others because we have taken the difficult decisions as they needed to be taken over many years. Together each year we have re-shaped our services, we have made only prudent use of reserves, and we have taken the difficult but necessary decisions around Council Tax increases. That said, the Local Government Association has identified a £4bn funding deficit for English councils over the coming two years. We really hope the next government recognises this and acts to ensure more money is made available for the vital services our residents rely on.”

Cllr Jilly Julian, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources and Budget-lead, added: “Despite the very challenging financial landscape we face, I am frankly relieved that we are able to present the council with a balanced budget which delivers against an ambitious refresh of the Council Plan.

“High among our priorities is tackling poverty and inequality across the borough. We are investing significantly in programmes which will support our most disadvantaged residents in ways which improve their quality of life whilst reducing costs to the council over the medium term.

“We are also finding ways to continue to invest in cleaning up the borough, with more investment in maintenance of our drainage system, more parking enforcement and improved road safety measures, especially near schools.

“I am grateful not only to my Liberal Democrat colleagues but also to my fellow councillors of all parties for their positive engagement in our budget setting process over the past six months. Come Thursday evening there will be no surprises from the Liberal Democrats – just the proposal of a sound budget that implements the changes needed to balance our books for another year.”

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