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County council warns it has to cut spending by £48m
DORSET County Council’s leader has issued a strong warning as the authority embarks on a new era of change.
The council has launched its Forward Together programme in a bid to save £48million over the next three years.
A total of around £18million in savings have already been identified in ten overarching projects but the council still has a further £30million to find in order to plug the gap.
At a meeting of the cabinet, council leader Spencer Flower praised the work of officers who had prepared a report identifying the areas already marked for savings but claimed it was ‘not brave enough’.
He challenged the officers to come back with a further report in January with proposed savings to get the council within ten per cent of the £48million target.
Coun Flower said: “We can’t just embrace the past and take a bit off the edges, we have got to fundamentally change the way we do things.”
He added: “Just to make it clear this is the most radical and reforming change programme this council has ever experienced and is ever likely to experience again.
“Let’s not underestimate the gravity of what we are dealing with.”
Coun Flower said the radical approach was necessary given the position the authority found itself in following repeated cuts in funding from central government, meaning even more savings had to be achieved on top of those the council had strived to find in recent years.
The new approach will look at how the council can deliver services in a different way, including working with partners and stakeholders and working more efficiently.
Areas already identified for savings include a review of the way adult social care is delivered, which is expected to save £7million, changes to work styles and a review of assets that has been earmarked for a £3.8million saving and a further £1million through a holistic transport review.
Cabinet member for corporate resources Robert Gould backed his leader’s view that the measures proposed were encouraging but more work needed to be done to take the programme further. He said: “I fully support the thrust of this, it’s very good, but there is a lot more to do.”
Residents facing tax hike
THE cabinet heard the council’s current strategy will see Dorset residents face a two per cent rise in their council tax next year.
Coun Gould presented the authority’s medium term financial plan which set out the council’s outline budget position for the coming years.
He said the council still needed to find an estimated £2.4million in savings for the next financial year but was confident these could be identified in the coming months.
Coun Gould added that the budget strategy assumed a two per cent rise in the council tax, although this would need to be formally adopted by the council during the budget setting process.
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