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People are invited to have their say on £25 million savings at Dudley Council with the launch of this year’s Big Question.

For the next three months the council will be asking people for their views on the proposed budget savings amid continued unprecedented reductions in government funding.

There are now more ways than ever before for people to have their say on the budget, including the online Big Question as well as a series of scrutiny committees, community forum meetings and public-led workshops.

All responses will be taken into consideration before a decision is taken by full council in March next year.

The council has put forward radical proposals to remodel the way it delivers services to find the millions of pounds needed.

The savings are in response to the £76 million reduction in government funding since 2010, which is forecast to rise to more than £92 million over the next three years.

With the continued, unprecedented reductions in funding from central government, major changes to the way services are designed and delivered are central to the council balancing the books and saving millions of pounds, as well as ensuring essential front line services continue to run.

The council’s cabinet is proposing a 3.99 per cent increase in council tax, which includes a 2 per cent precept for adult social care, (equivalent to 90p per week for a band D property), which will raise an additional £4 million annual income. Despite this proposed increase, borough residents will continue to pay one of the lowest rates of council tax in the country.

Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of the council, said: “Over the past four years around 15,000 people have shared their views with us through the Big Question. That feedback has been extremely important to us when trying to plan for the future in these very challenging times.

“There are now more ways than ever before for people to share their ideas and thoughts with us through the community forums and scrutiny committees as well as well as online, which will help us make an informed transparent decision next year.”

Councillor David Sparks, cabinet member for finance, added: “These are some of the most challenging times this authority will ever have to face, but we have managed to set a balanced budget for people to have their say on.

“We know these proposed cuts will have an impact on services but we are trying, through greater efficiency, to maintain as high a standard as possible, in the circumstances that we find ourselves in prompted by the cut in our financial support from central government.

“This is just the beginning of a thorough and transparent consultation period giving people the opportunity to let us know how these proposed savings will impact their lives and how they can work with us to ensure services continue to be delivered.”

In the budget report, savings of £18 million are proposed for 2017/18, moving up to £23 million by 2018/19 and £25 million by 2019/20. But the report forecasts there will still be a deficit of £9 million by 2019/20 if additional savings are not found.

Place scrutiny committee took place on November 15 and discussed aspects of the budget including school crossing patrols. Children’s services scrutiny committee takes place on November 16, with corporate scrutiny committee on November 17. Health and adult social care scrutiny committee will be on November 23 and the overview and scrutiny management board on November 28.

The next round of community forums run throughout January.

Hard copies of the consultation will also be available in libraries and leisure centres across the borough.

The consultation runs until February 10 before a decision is made at a meeting of the full council on March 6 next year.

A full copy of the budget report can be found at www.dudley.gov.uk and find more information on the big question online.