The council faces having to make record savings of £40m in next year’s budget.
It follows an announcement by the government that the grants the council receives will be reduced by more than £31m. Along with this there are unavoidable cost increases next year for waste disposal, transport and inflation. It means that £40m is needed to balance the books.
In addition, the government figures mean that the council will have to find a further £19m savings in 2012/13. The council has already identified £15m savings for next year, but that leaves a further £25m that must be found before April 2011.
It will have to put urgent plans in place to meet the budget deadlines and will look at all options including reviewing schemes funded by some of the lost grants; explore bringing forward savings ideas developed for 2012/13, and identifying new options.
These savings will inevitably result in significant reductions in the number of posts within the council. There have already been 340 posts removed to save some of the existing £15m and similar or even greater numbers may be required to save the extra £25m.
Detailed plans are being pulled together and will be reported to the council’s Executive at a special meeting on January 24.
Despite having to make these savings the council is looking to limit the impact on its aims of improving the economic prosperity of the borough, and narrowing the health, prosperity and other gaps between the most and least disadvantaged in the borough. It also needs to make sure it meets its legal responsibilities to protect children and vulnerable adults.
To meet its savings targets it has already saved £1m from reducing senior management; placed a ban on new recruitment; and is reviewing everything that it does to look at working more efficiently.