Herts cuts after Spending Review

21 October 2010, 17:15 | Updated: 24 October 2010, 09:20

The belt tightening begins in Herts as police and public bodies seek to live in straightened times.

Hertfordshire County Council say they will have to axe around 1000 jobs. In a statement to heart, the County Council say "With staffing making up such a large percentage of our costs, it would not have been possible to meet our savings target of £150m and prioritise frontline services without reducing the number of employees.

There will be at least a 10% reduction in staffing numbers across the organisation (excluding schools) over the next three years. We will be ensuring that any job losses will have as little impact as possible on frontline services.

To keep the number of compulsory redundancies down to a minimum, some employees aged 55 or over have been offered early retirement on or before 30 October 2010. No additional payments are being made by the council, beyond what is available from the Local Government Pension Scheme, to staff taking early retirement."

Immediately after the Chancellor's Spending Review statement, Robert Gordon, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "The Spending Review is pretty much along the lines we were expecting and have been planning for - although the reduction in central government grants looks as if it might be rather higher than previously assumed.  However, as reduction will be phased in by four equal instalments over four years (rather than three), it will give us more time to plan for the later years' savings ."
Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority , Stuart Nagler told heart "The Police Authority and the Constabulary have well-developed plans in anticipation of these cuts and remain committed to serving the communities of Hertfordshire.  We have been planning that Hertfordshire will have to budget for a funding shortfall of about £40m over the next four years". 

"Now that the Government has made the announcement for Police service funding, we will be refining our spending projections over the coming weeks, particularly once we receive Hertfordshire’s funding settlement in late November/early December ."

What about the future - Mr Naglar told heart: "However, Hertfordshire is better placed than many other forces to deal with the difficulties ahead.  We have a strong track record of efficiency savings and innovative working.  We are national leaders in collaboration and already share a wide range of services with Bedfordshire Police and other forces and agencies.  This includes joint Major Crime, Scientific Support Services and Firearms.   This work has now been given even greater priority and, together with internal restructuring, such as the move to a single Local Policing Command, and reductions in police overtime, it will help offset the budget deficit.   

Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said: “The scale of the required savings is such that it is necessary to drive out cost savings across all areas of the Force and to challenge many of the existing approaches to service delivery.

“Despite these financial challenges, our Force continues to be consistently recognised as a well-performing and efficient organisation and every effort will be made to ensure these high standards are maintained .”

Three Rivers District Council say they are seeking to reassure residents after the Government announcement of 7.1% cuts in local government funding each year for the next four years.

Ann Shaw is the Council Leader and says:

"We are drawing up plans based on a 15% grant reduction over the next two years, and we have also taken into account the Council Tax freeze. The Government's announcement is in line with our assumptions - but that still means there are some tough decisions we will have to take over the coming months.

"Naturally our priority is to maintain services for the most vulnerable in our community and to ensure the highest standards in frontline services for everyone. Providing refuse and recycling services, street cleaning, award-winning parks and nature reserves and sports centres are just some of the services we will be protecting with great care."

Chief Executive Steven Halls told us:

"We've had extremely careful financial management for a number of years and have saved more than £1M over the last two years. The total reduction over the next four years is higher than expected but we have two years in which to prepare for additional 3.4% savings."

We published last week 10 tips for you to help us to reduce our running costs and protect frontline services. In particular, we are urging everyone who has a computer to obtain routine information from this website rather than telephoning and also to sign up for e-newsletters. 

We reduced Council Tax by 0.5% last year and saved £1.24M in the last two years."

Full details of the Government grant, known as the Settlement, will be known by December. Councils receive an annual funding grant from the Government as well as raising funds directly through Council Tax. We, together with the Parish Councils, receive 14 pence in the pound from Council Tax. The remaining 86 pence goes to Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Police Authority.