New consultation process to give West Dunbartonshire residents more say on budget
West Dunbartonshire Council will give residents more say on how its budget is used as part of a new consultation process being introduced.
The new priority-based engagement will see residents being consulted six months in advance of the budget being set to give feedback on which council services are vital to them.
Residents will also be asked to rank services including schools, roads, libraries and leisure centres in order of importance to them.
The outcome of the engagement, which begins in August, will give both council officers and elected members a clear indication of the service areas in which there is an appetite for change.
Information gathered throughout the consultation will be reported back to council and inform the options which are presented to elected members for consideration when setting the 2020/21 budget.
Councillor Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services, said: “Our residents are at the heart of what we do so it is essential that they have every opportunity to have their say and shape the early stages of the budget setting process.
“Priority-based engagement gives our residents a stronger voice, and also gives officers valuable early insight into what our communities see as most important before savings are suggested. This information will help focus savings being considered in areas highlighted by citizens as less important to them.
“Balancing the budget is always a difficult process but when we come together next year to consider the options, they will be based on citizen engagement which will allow us to address the needs and priorities of our communities.
“This feedback will inform service design, planning and savings options for a number of years – not just one – so I would encourage all residents to participate in this important consultation when it opens in August.”
It is anticipated that the new format for budget engagement will also build on citizens’ knowledge and understanding on the range of services provided by the council, as well as the challenges faced when trying to balance the budget.
The priority-based consultation will replace the previous model of consulting on specific savings options in January each year, ahead of budget-setting in March. Engagement will include focus groups events in communities across West Dunbartonshire with the consultation opening on August 19 and residents having the opportunity to contribute their views until September 27.
City of Edinburgh and Inverclyde councils are just two that have successfully used priority-based engagement for their budget setting.
A report detailing the findings will be reported to councillors in November before the budget is officially set in February.