Budget proposals to balance the books following the most challenging year in Wyre Forest District Council’s history were approved at full council on Monday 1 March.

The full council meeting on Wednesday 25 February was adjourned as the budget strategy recommended by the Cabinet, as well as amendments proposed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups, each failed to secure support of a majority of councillors.

The budget was approved on Monday (1 March) with some changes from the Cabinet's original medium term financial strategy. These changes will not affect the overall budget forecast.

The changes include;

  • Extra wording in the report to confirm that the Wyre Forest Forward Savings Programme is expected to reduce management costs as a result of implementing new service delivery models and a holistic review, led by the Chief Executive. The review is now planned for the earlier implementation of by April 2022 at the latest.
  • There will not be an immediate request for a boundary review to reduce the number of councillors but the budget recognises a review is likely to be necessary to allow redrawing of ward boundaries to take account of future population growth as a result of the local plan.
  • The Community Leadership Fund will be withdrawn more gradually than previously proposed. Councillors will have £1k each in 2021-22 (£33k in total), reduced to £500 per councillor in 2022-23 (£16.5k in total) and zero after that.

Leader of Wyre Forest District Council, Councillor Graham Ballinger said: “I would like to thank members of all political groups on the council for coming together to reach a majority on the budget, in what has been one of our most challenging years ever.

“The budget that council has now approved does not propose cutting any services, but puts forward options for how the council might deliver services differently in future to save costs and protect frontline services, such as joining forces to deliver services in partnership with other local authorities and organisations.  

“The budget will involve a challenging but achievable programme of work. We have listened to the views of residents who took part in the budget survey and we will do everything we can to avoid outsourcing or privatising services. It may not be realistic to ignore this avenue entirely, but I promise we would only consider this as a last resort once all other possible delivery options have been examined and exhausted.”