Wiltshire Council's £27 million cuts will protect services says leader
12:54pm Tuesday 19th February 2013 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said the council’s proposed budget for next year will protect front line services despite making cuts of £27 million.
The council has received a cut in funding from central Government by £9.8 million for 2013/14 or three per cent.
The amount of savings the Tory run council proposes to make is £27.6 million. The council made savings of £32 million this current financial year and £33 million the year before as part of the cuts to public spending by the Government.
In 2013/14 the council is proposing to cut 200 jobs, although said some of the affected posts were vacant while others were filled by agency staff.
Since it became a unitary council in 2009 it has cut 614 posts, including the chief executive and two corporate director posts.
The savings of £27 million include £4.5 million in buying services such as changing the highway contract and £10.3 million in efficiencies across services.
Coun Scott said moving from five councils in Wiltshire to one meant it had better buying power and was the reason why it was managing to make savings in back office functions. She also said having one council for Wiltshire had resulted in a freezing of the Council Tax, which is also proposed for 2013/14.
The year after next the council is predicting making savings of £22.5 million and Coun Scott admitted it was getting harder to reduce costs in the back office.
She said: “Year on year it will become more difficult and I don’t think we have got to the worst bit yet. Public services will be hit in the new spending review so we have got to plan for that. I think I’m confident for the next couple of years that we can manage it. “
She said the council would have to increase working with other organisations such as the police and the new Clinical Commissioning Group to save money across public services. She also said the council would be encouraging more people to volunteer to assist services such as good neighbour schemes and maintaining public rights of way.
The council’s reserves are predicted to be £12.5 million at the end of March after using £1.7 million this year for looking after children in care.
Coun Scott defended the level of money “We are not a fat cat authority, £12 million is not a lot to fall back on. The reserves are there to cover risk and we very rarely have to dip into reserves,” she said.
Some fees and charges for service will rise by 2.6 per cent while the average rent increase for council housing tenants will be £2.92 per week or 3.4 per cent.
The Cabinet’s proposed budget will be decided on at a full meeting of Wiltshire Council on Tuesday at the Civic Centre, Trowbridge at 10.30am.
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