Northumberland County Council plans for further £23m cuts

COUNCIL bosses in Northumberland have announced another £23m in cuts for the next financial year.

COUNCIL bosses in Northumberland have announced another £23m in cuts for the next financial year.

Leaders at Liberal Democrat-controlled Northumberland County Council have put together a budget for 2013/14, which includes savings of £23.6m.

The authority has meanwhile revealed it has to save a total of almost £86m over the next four years.

The level of budget reduction required over those four years has increased from levels already agreed by almost £29m, thanks to the reduced handout from government.

Council bosses last night said they had “managed again to protect the frontline” despite a “disappointing” settlement from the Government and that residents of Northumberland would not see “any great change” in the way services are delivered. The authority has revised the financial plan for 2012-16 it approved last February, with a report due to go before council chiefs setting out £23.6m of savings in the 2013/14 budget.

Cuts are proposed across all areas, including staff restructures, “removal” of posts, “back office efficiencies” and increases in charges.

The report reveals how a total of £85.9m must be saved over the period 2013-2016, with figures of £35.349m given for 2014/15 and £26.974m for 2015/16.

The overall level of budget reduction for those four years has increased since last February by £28.9m, from £73.7m to £102.6m.

A report to the executive states: “The provisional settlement announced by the government significantly worsened the financial outlook for the council adding considerably to future cost reduction targets.

“Full information is still not available in order that its entire implications can be completely understood.

“The proposed allocation continues the previous approach of the government which moves resource from the more deprived areas of the country e.g. North West, North East and Yorkshire.

“It is particularly disappointing that the work undertaken regarding the additional costs faced by both rural and largely rural councils has been completely negated within the funding formula by the application of dampening arrangements.”

Council leader Jeff Reid last night said: “It is a fairly-constructed package to maintain the delivery of service to the residents of Northumberland.

“People will not see any great change in the way services are delivered.

“We have managed again to protect the front line, we will continue to do that, bearing in mind the financial position of the county never mind the county.

“It is very painful to keep going but the Government savings targets are challenging to say the least.”

The report to the executive recommends that a revised medium term plan for 2014-18 is produced after the county council elections this May.


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