The Council’s total net budget is around £235 million and there needs to be a saving of £24.493 million to balance next year’s budget.
The Council’s budget proposal report went before Cabinet on Monday, December 5 2011. It lists a series of proposals designed to achieve savings from across a range of services and financial commitments. The proposed savings have been subject to a consultation exercise with residents, partners and staff, and some remain subject to ongoing dialogue with service users.
The proposal is framed by Oldham’s desire to become a Co-operative Council where they will focus on transforming how services are delivered in future. They will examine how this can be achieved through new working arrangements with residents, partners and staff and will aim to identify mutually beneficial goals.
Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Cabinet Member for Finance and Human Resources, said, “Councils across England are facing unprecedented budget challenges and savings on this scale are not easily found.”
“These are difficult decisions we need to make and we’re ahead of the game in putting these to Cabinet in December. It will enable us to get on with implementing changes that can produce significant long-term savings.”
“We all recognise public service delivery has to change in the current financial climate and by working closer with partners in AGMA, the PCT, voluntary and community groups, and residents, we’re confident savings can be found whilst also safeguarding essential services.
“Financial prudence is important but we’ve rejected an approach to simply ‘salami-slice’ across all budgets. Instead, we’ve used clear values and priorities to guide us in these proposals.
“We must ensure, for example, that money is available to make devolution to neighbourhoods effective and also that investment remains available for major regeneration opportunities that can shape the future success of the Borough.”
Oldham Council found £40 million in savings last year. Estimates suggest that in total, between 2009 and 2015, it will have saved £130 million.
Jim McMahon, Council Leader, added, “We’re working hard to find long-term savings in how we do business through joint-working with other AGMA authorities and partners, and by reviewing our existing contracts and procurement. This work will enable us to deliver a balanced budget for next year as well as provide sustainable savings for the long-term.”
“There are some challenging proposals in here but there’s no hiding place anymore and everyone recognises that.”
“Certain services are absolutely vital to residents and we’re looking to transform the way these are delivered whilst also improving their quality.”
“A good example is Adult Social Care which comprises 28 per cent of our spending. We know how important home care is and there are no proposals to cut this in the budget. Indeed we’re redesigning the response service, who provide 24/7 call-out care, in a move that will save up to £150,000. At the same time we’re also appointing two people to do quality checking on private home care agencies to ensure good standards are being maintained.”
“Further difficult decisions will be needed in the years ahead but our focus will remain on our residents’ priorities when making them.”
At the Saddleworth Parish Council meeting on 28th November 2011, following a presentation by Assistant Borough Treasurer David Hodgkinson, several councillors questioned the ‘value for money’ given by Oldham’s strategic partners. They queried the cost and standard of some services and wanted confirmation that Oldham’s partners are delivering quality at the best price.