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14 November 2013, 06:00
Suffolk County Council are spelling out how they plan to make millions of pounds worth of cuts from their budget.
The proposals that would save £38.6 million from Suffolk County Council’s annual budget will be put before county councillors for the first time next week.
The county council’s Scrutiny Committee will examine the details of the proposed savings for 2014/15 and question leading councillors and senior officers.
The savings proposals are the first part of a four year plan that will eventually see £156 million saved, equivalent to 30% of the council’s current annual budget (excluding schools). This on top of more than £90 million saved since April 2011. These savings are necessary because government funding for local councils is reducing and demand for services is increasing.
What Savings Are Being Made?
22 separate savings proposals make up the £38.6 million, the largest six being:
Annual savings from the new Energy from Waste plant at Great Blakenham, programmed to open in December 2014. Saving: £8 million.
Finding additional savings from within Adult and Community Services that enable the council to protect specific budgets that ensure the growing number of people requiring care are able to access the services they need. Saving £6.4 million
The council’s contract with BT for the provision of ICT, HR, finance and public access closing in May 2014 and bringing the services and staff back in house. A programme of service transformation and modernisation will follow. Saving: £9 million.
Cutting the council’s contingency budget, budget for major projects and capital financing fund. Saving: £4 million.
Reviewing Supporting People services (eg help for marginalised adults, young people, gypsies and travellers and sheltered accommodation to identity areas where savings will have the least impact. Saving: £2 million.
A review of Children’s Centre provision, looking at how we currently utilise our buildings to deliver services. Saving: £1.5 million.
Councillor James Finch, chairman for the county council’s Scrutiny Committee, said:
“The role of the scrutiny committee is to hold the county council to account for its decisions. The council’s budget saving proposals are indeed a key area of interest for residents of Suffolk . It is only right that we take the time to go over the details
of these proposals to ensure that what is suggested best serves the people of Suffolk, reflecting the feedback received from this year’s budget survey.”
Councillor Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance and property, said:
“It is absolutely right that the scrutiny committee looks into the detail of the proposed budget savings. There is a great deal of pressure on the county council to deliver significant savings and every department has been working hard to ensure that we can make these savings whilst trying to protect our much valued front line services.
“These proposals are just that, we want to make sure that the savings being made are in the best interests of local people. No decisions will be taken without thorough public consultation.”
“I welcome the critical eye of scrutiny as it is vital that we get these proposals right in order for us to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Suffolk.”
The county council has already commissioned Ipsos Mori to survey 4000 Suffolk residents on how they think their money should be spent. In the coming weeks, a wider public consultation will also be launched.
Decisions on the council’s budget, including what the level of council tax should be, are taken at a public meeting of all of Suffolk’s 75 county councillors. The final decision on the council’s 2014/15 budget will be taken in February 2014.