More than 400 people made their own spending plans for Warwickshire County Council by completing the ‘YouChoose’ budget simulator between November and December last year. They gave suggestions on how the council should save over £20 million in the 2011/12 financial year. The web application showed how the council’s base budget is spent, allowed users to make adjustments, and then showed what impact their spending decisions would have on local services - from road maintenance to looking after the vulnerable.
Over half of respondents submitted a budget with a Council Tax freeze and 96 per cent suggested that ‘back office’ functions should find the biggest savings. The highest priority area for respondents was the Fire Service, followed by children’s social care, and services for older people and adults with disabilities, with all three of these areas receiving the smallest reductions.
Council Leader Alan Farnell said: “We opened a very honest discussion with the public about the financial challenges we are facing and we would like to thank everyone who took the time to give us their views.
“We said last year that we want to keep council tax low and protect frontline services to keep people safe, and this is reflected by the priorities of local people who took part in You Choose. We are also making the council a leaner organisation by sharing back office services, reducing the number of council buildings and decreasing the number of management roles. We will continue to cut the operational costs of running the council.”
The You Choose simulator was made available as part of the council’s work on public spending and an additional document ‘Facing the Challenge’ was published in November last year which set out the scale of the financial challenge over the next three years and how the council intends to tackle it. Facing the Challenge and You Choose webpages have received around 2,500 visits.
You can access the report and see the Facing the Challenge publication on www.warwickshire.gov.uk/facingthechallenge
Although the You Choose budget simulator has now closed people can still email their ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org All responses will be read and considered but unfortunately it is not possible to reply to each submission.
Warwickshire is one of around 20 councils across the country to use the YouChoose software which has been made available at no cost by the Local Government Group and the online polling company YouGov.