September 28th, 2016

Major changes loom as new cuts bite deeper

Major changes loom as new cuts bite deeper Major changes loom as new cuts bite deeper
Updated: 9:50 am, May 07, 2015

A SWATHE of new cuts are on the way as county council bosses press on with plans to slash millions of pounds from the authority’s books.

Worcestershire County Council has hailed the next financial year one of major transformational change as it attempts to save £27million in 2015/16 on top of the £98million which will have been trimmed from the budget by the end of the current financial year.

It is part of a wider plan which by 2018 will see the council shrink from 3,600 staff to fewer than 2,000 and 85 per cent of its services provided by outside organisations.

A total of 43 savings schemes were approved by councillors yesterday (Thursday). Some are new projects while others are areas where the authority needs to make further savings or realise them faster. However they only amount to £22million leaving another £5million to find.

Deputy council leader Simon Geraghty said he was confident the gap would be filled but admitted it was getting harder.

“When you have done the easy changes the transformational savings are quite hard work and all this comes with risks, but we are confident we have got a wide range of proposals, not just a few workstreams, which we can work on to deliver the £27million we need.” he told the Standard.

“A lot of the initiatives we have been pursuing will come to life in 2015 and people will see a change in the organisation, working in a more commercial way with more services delivered by other organisations but with quality assurance to ensure we have got good quality services.”

The proposals include saving another £826,000 from the transfer of support functions for schools to another organisation on top of more than £1.6million already earmarked. A further £570,000 will come out of the Early Help budget and £500,00 spent on providing positive activities for young people will also be cut.

In future 40 per cent of library services will be provided by volunteers to save £1million, while another £100,000 will come from making street lighting more efficient.

But Coun Geraghty stressed a large portion of the cuts will come from working more efficiently and reducing staff or buildings.

Reducing office space in County Hall and renting it out to other public sector organisations or private firms will save £820,000 while measures including executive salaries and cutting the communications budget will contribute to saving £172,000.

The projects will be worked up in detail before being put to the public in December ahead of the budget setting meeting early next year.

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