Support for economic development, businesses and families emerged as local people's main priorities in Wolverhampton City Council's Budget Challenge, the results of which are announced today (Monday 2 September, 2013).

The Budget Challenge involved face-to-face consultations with local community groups, online consultations with stakeholders and broader public consultation through SIMALTO, an online budget simulator.

The results will be taken into consideration before the council presents its 2014 to 2015 budget proposals for formal consultation later this year.

A total of 302 people took part in the consultation process, of which 219 contributed their views through SIMALTO.

Councillor Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said: "The background to the Budget Challenge is the financial pressure the council faces as the direct result of cuts in Government grants.

"Though the council is committed to protecting services, some of these may have to change as a result of these cuts. It's also likely that other services will have to be reduced - and some may be stopped altogether.

"We launched the Budget Challenge to help local people get a better understanding of the challenges the council faces and, more importantly, to discover what their priorities for the council's 2014 to 2015 budget really are ahead of the formal Budget Consultation process that starts late next month (October 2013).

"We were very impressed by the scale, quality and thoughtfulness of their response.

"It's clear that their highest priorities are encouraging growth, investment and jobs in Wolverhampton and supporting local families, particularly the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

"These are also priorities for the council and its partners - 'Prosperity for All' is the cornerstone of our City Strategy and we're working together not just to create new job opportunities but to make sure that local people can compete for them.

"Provisional Government figures for 2014 to 2015 show a further 9.5% real-terms cut in grant support to Wolverhampton, equivalent to £15.4 million.

"Balancing the council's budget is becoming a bigger - and tougher - challenge year by year as a result of government cuts. But we now have a much clearer idea of what local people's priorities are. This will have a significant influence on the savings proposals we bring forward for formal consultation in the autumn.

"On behalf of the council I'd like to thank everyone who took part."

An executive summary of the Budget Challenge can be downloaded at Type=links;Linkid=2505;Title=The Budget Challenge;Target=_self;.