Council reveals savings of £85.9m required over next three years
BUDGET cuts of £23.6 million are needed by Northumberland County Council to balance its books for the forthcoming financial year.
And the long-term outlook for the authority look even worse with the news that savings of £85.9 million must be made over the period up to 2016 - 12 months ago the estimated figure had been £57 million.
A report to the executive by corporate director of finance Steven Mason outlines the ‘challenging’ financial outlook facing the council.
He explains: “The council remains under significant financial pressure and the financial outlook has significantly deteriorated following the announcement by the Government of the provisional settlement. 2014/15 and beyond will be particularly challenging.
“The size of the financial challenge will have a detrimental impact on staffing levels across the council. The council will continue to try and mitigate this impact by management of vacancies and voluntary redundancy wherever possible.”
Proposed cuts for the year ahead include nearly £8 million from adult care and housing, £3.7 million from children’s services, almost £6 million from finance, just under £3 million from local services such as highways and waste management, nearly £2 million from the transformation budget which includes tourism and culture and £700,000 from the fire and rescue service.
The council is also having to find over £500,000 to cover the reduction in car parking income it will suffer from the decision it took last November to reduce parking charges in Berwick.
Despite its financial woes, the authority looks set to freeze council tax for the third consecutive year in the light of non-recurrent funding incentives from the Government to do so.
However, Mr Mason warned: “The process by which councils are actively encouraged to freeze council tax whilst at the same time being required to cope with major reductions in grant funding is storing up both financial and operational issues for future years. It is therefore believed that the current approach is not sustainable into the medium term.”
The executive will discuss the report on Monday.
A further meeting scheduled for February 11 will consider the views of scrutiny before the budget goes before full council on February 22.
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 3 C to 11 C
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Wind direction: North east