Residents and organisations across Shropshire are being invited to give their views on what more the council can do in light of its financial challenges due to ongoing cuts in government funding.
The call out is part of Shropshire’s Big Conversation which launched last year to better understand which services people value most and where the council should prioritise its budget.
The Big Conversation survey will resume this week and will ask residents questions about their community, health and the local economy – the three main priorities in the council’s draft Corporate Plan.
Faced with the need to make £77m of savings by 2020/21 due to ongoing government cuts, Shropshire Council launched its ‘Big Conversation’ in August 2015 to begin an ongoing dialogue with residents, organisations and partners across the county.
Over 2,450 residents and organisations have already taken part in the Big Conversation survey and events. This resulted in Shropshire communities telling us that services for vulnerable children and adults, education and transport were perceived as priorities, where people felt savings couldn’t be made. Feedback also gave us an insight into peoples’ views on making savings, increasing revenue, and encouraging more local involvement in providing services.
The following are examples of what residents told us and what we are doing as a result of their feedback.
- You said: Communities need to be enabled to do more.
- We have: Established a town and parish council forum to share ideas, good practice and support the development of joint working and delivery. We have introduced a new model for youth services. These changes have delivered a combined saving of £0.3m.
- You said: The Council needs to raise income locally.
- We are: Working towards generating new income through the creation of an energy company, and looking to increase income from car parks and Theatre Severn. We’ll generate an income of £0.5m if these proposals are agreed.
- You said: Protect services for vulnerable children.
- We have: Worked to avoid planned budget reductions of £1.2m from Looked After Care Placements and Leaving Care Support services and £0.3m within Early Help Services for children’s social care interventions.
- You said: Early intervention in health and social care can address long-term health issues and reduce costs in the long run.
- We have: Delayed a £4m reduction in our Adult Services budget for preventative contracts with voluntary sector organisations while we look for alternative solutions. We recognise that these organisations are fundamental in helping to support people to remain at home and accessing community-based facilities.
You can find the full report on last year’s survey here.
Councillor Cecilia Motley, Cabinet Member for or Rural Services and Communities and council lead for the Big Conversation said;
“It’s no secret that, like all councils, we are faced with the need to make substantial savings in the coming years due to continuous Government cuts.
“As there will be considerably less money, we will not be able to deliver the same services as we do now and will need to prioritise how the budget is spent.
“Shropshire’s Big Conversation, is the opportunity for you to have your say on what more we could do to ensure that Shropshire continues to remain a great place to live, learn and work.
“Please spare some time and take part in this survey. Your views will be part of the feedback councillors get before they make any decisions about the council’s future budget, and what services it will provide in the years ahead.”
Chief Executive of Shropshire Council Clive Wright added;
“The Big Conversation is an opportunity for us to discuss how we can work together and make sure that the people we support are at the heart of everything we do. We wanted to find out what is important to you and to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can meet the financial challenges we face.
“The very successful ‘Big Conversation’ events generated a great deal of useful discussion – which along with the survey results, have been taken into account and influenced our work and priorities in our draft ‘Corporate Plan’.
“We are in a slightly more stable position financially than last year, due to working in new ways, using one off funding from our reserves and the sale of assets. However this only buys us a short time to find solutions and sustain those services needed most by our local communities.
“The Big Conversation is one way we are seeking solutions, we have set up a survey to ask your views on what more we could do and we welcome your ideas and suggestions.”
For more information and to take part in Shropshire’s Big Conversation survey visit shropshire.gov.uk/bigconversation. Hard copies of the survey are available on request by calling 0345 678 9028.
The survey is due to close at the end of January.