WIRRAL should brace itself for a further £70m of cuts in services over the next three years, according to documents for next week’s council cabinet budget meeting.

Council tax is expected to be frozen again, but there will be a "funding gap" of £18m which will have to be found in the next 12 months.

It will mean another raft of cuts to services on top of four years of austerity that has already seen £150m slashed from Wirral's budget.

But with the local authority currently holding £83.6m in the bank in “reserves,” calls have been made for the administration to dip into it to mitigate cutbacks needed to balance the books.

Conservative group leader Cllr Jeff Green said: “Every penny of that stash held in reserves has come out of the pockets of taxpayers.

“They would expect a proportion of it to be used for the benefit of Wirral householders and council-run services.

“The administration appears to have forgotten who this money actually belongs to.”

A council spokesman said: “All local authorities are required to manage their budget responsibly, and we do so on a three-year rolling programme, which includes maintaining sensible reserves.

“It is important to remember that reserves are earmarked for specific purposes, to improve services and as a springboard for future investment.

“They can only be used once, and as such are not a long-term solution to budget restrictions.”

As it stands, a breakdown of the reserve fund shows: 

  • £26.5m is held to support services activities and projects.
  • £19.3m to support the council’s “remodelling” programme.
  • £20.3m is for the mitigation of future risks, insurance and taxation.
  • And £17.5m is “schools related.”

It has not been possible to speak to Labour council leader Cllr Phil Davies this morning, but at a budget meeting in December he said: "As long as the Government keeps cutting funding we will need to make more savings.

"We are not hearing alternatives from the other parties that differ from the ones we are proposing.

"A further five years of austerity will see the end of local government as we know it.

"Responsibility for these cuts lies firmly at the doors of this discredited Government.

"It would be a dereliction of duty not to propose savings."

The cabinet report shows a provisional settlement of Wirral’s main grant from central Government will be reduced by £24m in 2015/16.

Last year, the borough received total grant funding of £87m, the announced sum for this cycle is £63m, although this has yet to be finally confirmed by ministers.

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday evening; its decisions will have to be ratified at a further meeting of the full council.