Still time to consult with Harlow Council over budget

Politics / Wed 13th Aug 2014 at 11:41am

HARLOW Council has received over 900 responses so far as part of its consultation on budget priorities which closes in three weeks’ time.

The consultation, which has been running since 1 July 2014, will help Harlow Council make the decisions it has to because of Government cuts to the Council’s funding.

Harlow Council continues to face difficult financial challenges due to continued reduced grants from the Government. Since 2011, the Council’s Government grant which funds nearly half (46%) of the Council’s services has reduced by nearly 50% and this will continue with an expected further reduction of 16% in 2015/16 and 10% in 2016/17.

This means the Council is planning for a future with a lot less money to spend on services in Harlow. The Council has to save £5.3m over the next four years. In 2015/16 the Council will need to save £1.3m. The Council’s budget proposals for 2015/16 will be announced in early 2015.

There are two parts to the consultation – surveys sent directly to over 2,000 randomly selected households, and an online survey – www.harlow.gov.uk/budget – open to anyone else who wants their say. Paper copies of the survey can also be picked up from the Civic Centre or requested by phoning Contact Harlow on 01279 446655.

The survey includes funding choices for over 20 different services Harlow Council provides or pays for directly. The Council provides both discretionary services (services the Council is not legally obliged to provide) and statutory services (services the Council has to provide by law). There are also questions on Council Tax levels and what residents’ priorities are for making Harlow a better place to live.

The consultation closes on 31 August 2014.

Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “We have received an excellent response to our consultation and there is still plenty of time for those who haven’t yet to also have their say.

“Given the level of response I am confident that we will have a reliable picture of residents’ priorities. This whole process is about being open and transparent with the community about the challenges the Council faces, and giving everyone the opportunity to have a say about the future of their services. This consultation is being run in-house which means that costs are being kept to a minimum.

“The consultation results will be published in September 2014 and I plan to give the community a further opportunity to talk to us about their budget priorities. When the results are published, it does not mean that final decisions on the future of any service have already been made. This is about the Council finding out what the community thinks it should directly provide or fund. The Administration will then look at its priorities and whether services can be provided in different ways or funded differently not necessarily all with direct funding from Harlow Council.

Residents can also join in the conversation on Twitter from now until the end of August 2014 by suggesting savings and priorities for the

Council using the hastag #Harlowbudgetchoices

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