WARRINGTON's finance chief has blamed sweeping national government cuts for the borough council needing to make cuts of nearly £14 million in the coming financial year.
Executive member for finance and corporate resources Peter Carey says the government cuts are the single biggest factory contributing to the council's position.
He is currently preparing to set out the detail of the council's proposed budget for 2012-2013.
Cllr Carey (pictured)
said: "With a decrease in funding from central government which equates to £24 less per person for everyone in the borough next year, there is no magic wand we can wave to protect Warrington from some of these cuts.
"We are setting out a budget that shows our commitment to protecting frontline services as far as possible, supporting the most vulnerable members of our communities and supporting growth in our local economy.
"But the grim reality is that we face the prospect of having to reduce or change some of the services that we know people rely on."
Commenting on some of the specific proposals contained in the budget plans for this year, Cllr Carey said: "We've tried to be as creative as possible, looking at different ways to deliver services like adoption and youth offending by joining up with other councils in the area, or for day care and support for disabled people to work with other providers who can help us to continue to provide critical support to those in need.
"And at a time of unprecedented economic hardship for many working families, we're determined to get our own house in order, by reviewing and redesigning services to eliminate waste, drive down the costs of our support services and getting the best price for the goods we have to buy.
"But the reality is that with escalating costs and increasing demand for services, we have had to face up to some unpalatable options.
"However, we gave a commitment to listen to the views that were expressed as part of our wide-ranging budget consultation and we have listened. Some of the proposals that we had outlined provoked significant debate and we will take all the feedback on board as we start to consider the detail of next year's budget.
"Of course, with such a sizeable reduction in our budget, there will be an impact on our staff. We're talking to staff about how we'll do everything we can to minimise any job losses, encouraging people to explore voluntary redundancies, redeployment and training opportunities so that we can mitigate against the need for compulsory redundancies. And we're committed to keeping staff informed and involved in this process to try and minimise the uncertainty."
Cllr Carey concluded: "In Warrington, we're only now seeing the real impact of the cuts starting to bite - cuts that are being made at a national level in funding for councils; in programmes to help people find work; in support for young and old people alike; and it's a clear sign that this government is cutting too far and too fast.
"We will do everything we can to help those people most in need, while maintaining vital high-quality services, but it's a wicked shame that cuts in funding will prevent us doing more."
All responses received during the January consultation have been collated and will be considered by councillors when they debate the budget for next year at the Executive Board meeting on February 13.
The final budget will be presented to full council on Monday March 5.