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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Cumbria County Council has to find another £9m in savings

Cost-cutting council chiefs are having to find £9 million more savings than they first estimated – hiking their total up to nearly £90m.

Jo Stephenson photo
Councillor Jo Stephenson

Cumbria County Council had been working on having to find £80m over the next three financial years as a national spending squeeze continues.

But number crunchers pouring over the latest Government figures now say the picture is worse than they first thought and have revised their forecast upwards to £89m.

About 600 jobs could be at risk because of the massive scale of the reductions needed.

The latest figure has emerged just days after the authority’s consultation on its budget plans for the next year.

It has been reached as the full details from last month’s local government funding settlement have become clearer.

The £89m savings demanded to balance the books in the wake of reduced Government cash support is on top of the £80m already sliced in the past three years.

Council chiefs’ new financial target does not change the £24.4m of cuts demanded in the next financial year, but will mean reductions will be more severe in the following two – with £35.4m in 2015/16 and £30m in 2016/17.

It has been revealed that more than 1,500 people and organisations have taken part in the budget consultation, with several hundred separate letters and emails, and a number of petitions, also received.

The most contentious issues have been proposals to cut bus services, changes to fire service cover in places including Penrith and Workington and a move to introduce on-street parking charges.

Cumbria County Council’s share of council tax looks set to be frozen for the fourth year running.

Full feedback from the budget consultation will be examined by the authority’s ruling cabinet when it meets on Thursday.

Deputy leader Jo Stephenson, who holds the finance brief in the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, said: “January 30 will be a big day for big decisions.

“The uncertainty over changes to government council tax rules makes this even more problematic.

“The choices before councillors are extremely difficult. This makes it even more important to listen to the views of people across Cumbria before making decisions, and why I am grateful to everyone who has taken time to take part in our budget savings consultation.”

Carlisle City Council yesterday criticised the Government for leaving it late to set out what the implications in grants terms could be for freezing council tax – leaving them with major last-minute changes that they say could have been avoided.

Its Labour leaders had been planning a 1.99 per cent council tax rise but have U-turned on that in the wake of the latest Whitehall guidance. Other cost saving proposals include a reduction in back-office costs and stopping doing some services.

Next week’s cabinet meeting will draw up a final budget to recommend to a meeting of all councillors on February 13.

Have your say

tell them to ask ABC for a loan...they are throwing £9m at a new sports centre..problem solved..

Posted by Mrs W on 28 January 2014 at 17:22

There is a similarity between a football league club and a County or City Council.Performance can vary substantially from fine achievements to dire disasters.
The manager and/or players of a football club can be sacked with fresh blood achieving enhanced results. Sadly we cannot sack so easily those members of the Councils' executive and admin staff. Councillor numbers should definately be reduced. There needs to be a sharp "people" change. In its absence never, ever will either County or City Council rise towards Premier status. Meantime please stamp on the building of the grandoise new County Council head office on our Cecil St. and William St. car parks.

Posted by OLD LOCHINVAR on 28 January 2014 at 14:14

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