‘We have done everything we can’ Council announces £8m in budget cuts
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Somerset County Council (SCC) has revealed it has only managed to save just under half of the proposed budget deficit for 2019-20 – which could mean huge job losses and cuts to services in the area.
The authority has said ‘more difficult decisions’ have been made by its scrutiny and cabinet members in meetings held on January 23.
The SCC has already saved £7million in budget cuts from the £15millon deficit originally forecast, but around £2million is still expected to affect ‘frontline services’ in Somerset.
If the proposals are agreed at a full council meeting next month, the authority has said there could be a loss of between 50-100 jobs, a reduction in flood risk management and housing schemes.
Leader David Fothergill, said: “We’ve come a long way towards financial sustainability – but only as a result of many tough decisions, rigorous control and some one-off actions and funding.
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“We’ve been able to protect valued services and we are on target to deliver an underspend this year, which should allow us to top-up our reserves.
“It’s taken a huge amount of work and there are more difficult decisions to be made, but we have done everything we can to keep the impact to a minimum.”
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Approximately £1.1million is due to be saved through ‘reviewing care and support and promoting independence’, including withdrawing funding from eight extra care housing schemes to free up £600,000.
The council is also due to cut costs to flood risk management studies and flood schemes of £80,000, verge cutting at £90,000 and urban gully cleaning will free up £80,000 for the authority.
The remaining £6million is due to be partly saved through reducing social work services and ending IT contracts.
This also includes potentially ending leases on under-used buildings costing the council £175,000, selling vehicles to reclaim £78,000 and getting rid of vacant children’s staffing positions at a saving of £775,000.
Cllr Fothergill said: “The progress we’ve made must not hide the severe underfunding that all local government is dealing with, and since 2010 the we have made savings of around £143million as an authority.”