Residents have their say on future of discretionary council services


Tuesday, 15 August, 2023

A survey giving residents and community partners the opportunity to have their say on the future of discretionary council services has ended.

The month-long resident engagement, which closed on Thursday 10 August 2023, received over 8,000 responses and is one of the most successful engagement exercises conducted by Woking Borough Council.

Respondents were broadly representative of the borough’s demographic when compared with the recent Census.

Discretionary services, such as arts and culture, sports and leisure, and independent living, are currently provided and funded at the discretion of Woking Borough Council. Many councils do not always fund or provide these services.

Considering the significant financial challenges the council faces, including the need to bridge an £11 million budget shortfall in 2024/25, it is necessary to make difficult decisions about discretionary services.

In order to continue providing these services the council may need to increase charges, transfer the delivery of services to partners or not provide the service at all.

Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: "I would like to thank the thousands of residents, services users and community partners who took the time to tell the council their views on the future of discretionary council services.

“I am particularly pleased with the number of hard copies of the survey returned following engagement with older and vulnerable residents through our community centres and community meals service.

“I understand how passionate residents are towards the services they rely upon. Officers are currently collating and analysing resident comments which will be invaluable in informing the future of discretionary services.”

All responses received are currently being evaluated and will inform the financial reports that will be presented at September’s Executive (Thursday 21 September) and Full Council (Thursday 28 September) meetings. A supplementary report on the outcomes of the resident engagement is being prepared and will accompany these financial reports.

Following the recommendations of Full Council in September, formal consultation on any service changes will commence in the autumn.