Cuts will be even worse than expected - warning

PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 December 2010

(c) Adam Gault

MORE swingeing cuts will have to be made by North Somerset Council than first expected in the wake of the Government’s spending review.

The authority expected its funding to be slashed by £12.6million by Whitehall but it was announced on Monday evening that the figure has risen to £17.4million.

Council leader Nigel Ashton told members of the shocking news at an executive meeting on Tuesday.

He said: “It would appear our settlement is even worse than what we were told.

“However you manage to measure or categorise it North Somerset seems to come out worse than other areas.”

Council staff had been working hard to meet the expected budget deficit - and had come up with hundreds of proposals to shave £15.8 million off their budget for the coming year.

These cost cutting plans included shedding jobs and trimming spending in every council department.

The authority had budgeted for a local government settlement in the region of £76.6million in the next year.

And although the council only expected to receive a funding slash of £12.6 million in the 2011/12 period, it budgeted for 15.8 million in case the Government cuts were more severe than the authority’s estimate.

But despite these extra measures, the council will now have to go back to the drawing board to find another £4.8 million after the local authority budget cuts were revealed this week.

North Somerset Council had said it was ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of prospective cuts – and had already made considerable savings in the past few years.

Cllr Ashton added: “Having made £36 million worth of savings in the last three-and-a-half years, to face another £18 million in the next year is totally unacceptable.

“All directors may need to bring forward items that have been budgeted as future savings into year one.”

Cllr Ashton added that he would be asking for a meeting with the Communities and Local Government department to ‘argue the case’ as well as asking for the help of Weston MP John Penrose and North Somerset MP Liam Fox.

The council will be holding a consultation of the proposed £15.8million funding cuts, and it has until next month to find the extra savings before the final budget is set in February.

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