DORSET County Council has set out the areas where it hopes to find more than £40million of savings over the next three years.

The authority is embarking on an ambitious new savings programme to deal with further cuts to its funding and has warned tough challenges lie ahead.

The council needs to find £47m in savings over the next three years and a report considered by its cabinet this morning outlined where it aims to find £42m, around 90 per cent, of that total.

The main area identified for savings is a review of the whole authority’s operating strategy, through which the council hopes to achieve savings of £14.6m.

Council leader Spencer Flower said: “This is about having a look at how we operate ourselves and I think there is an opportunity here to fundamentally look at the whole model of how this authority works.”

Other savings identified include £7m through a new model for adult and community services, £5.2m through integration of adult and community services with health service partners and local authorities and £4m through a review of the council’s assets and work style.

Coun Flower made sure the cabinet was not in any doubt about how important this programme of savings was to the council and said it was crucial that work began now to ensure it could cope with the challenges that will present themselves in the future.

He said: “Hopefully we are giving ourselves enough time to deal with what is one of the most important areas of work which this council has ever faced.”

Cabinet member for community services Peter Finney said he backed staff at the county council to be able to cope with the demands of the savings programme, as they had done so far.

He said: “This is a daunting task for us to take on but I have got a lot of faith in the officers that we have at Dorset County Council and they will be quite able to cope with these issues and come up with innovative ideas.”

Cabinet member for corporate resources Robert Gould added: “It’s a substantial challenge to move forward.

“We have now got a programme of how we can do that and it’s a question now of implementation and working together.

“I think we are at the beginning of an exciting stage.”