Council balances budget after cuts of £20 million

County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

First published in News Malvern Gazette: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

NEARLY £20 million has been slashed from spending at Worcestershire County Council over the last year, it has emerged.

A new report on the council's finances has been published, revealing:

- In the 2013/14 financial year, which ended in March, £19.5 million was cut from the budgets

- The authority ended the year with an 'underspend' of £100,000, meaning its finances are in a relatively healthy state

- Every single penny of the extra £3.5 million earmarked towards children's social care was eaten up amid huge pressure on the service

- After the council hit its targets for the last financial year, it now estimates that slightly more than £70 million will need to be saved between now and April 2018, although it is subject to change

The report says the council is under ongoing pressure from "increased demand" for services, mainly in care for the elderly.

It says savings of "at least £25 million" will be required every year until at least 2018, admitting that the impact will be felt by staff and the public "to a greater extent than in previous years".

Over the last year the council has paid back £5 million of loans and the total net debt still outstanding is £240 million, which is in line with national recommendations.

It still has £13 million in its reserve kitty - a pot of cash stashed away as backup for emergencies or projects which require quick funding.

The report, which has been accepted by the Conservative cabinet, also reveals how the Government has awarded Worcestershire £1.2 million towards better school kitchen and dining facilities.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "This is a fantastic result, to be in balance on our budget with a variance of just £100,000 is a very good position to be in."

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "This is a snapshot in time but the success the 2013/14 budget means we've been able to transfer £1.3 million into our reserves.

"From a budget of £341 million the out-turn (how the council performed against the forecasts) is broadly neutral."

Comments (1)

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8:41pm Sat 14 Jun 14

3thinker says...

If the likes of Hardman and Geraghty had the interests of the local electorate and taxpayers at heart they should be proposing the County and District Councils be abolished to form a single Unitary Authority for Worcestershire. Overnight it would get rid of a couple of hundred councillors, significantly reduce all the damaging party political infighting and posturing and save £ millions whilst also making the Council more efficient and helping to protect vital services.

I'd welcome views on why a Unitary Council doesn't make total sense and particularly given the disgraceful way in which some of the elected members, our representatives have acted out of self interest in the last few years.
If the likes of Hardman and Geraghty had the interests of the local electorate and taxpayers at heart they should be proposing the County and District Councils be abolished to form a single Unitary Authority for Worcestershire. Overnight it would get rid of a couple of hundred councillors, significantly reduce all the damaging party political infighting and posturing and save £ millions whilst also making the Council more efficient and helping to protect vital services. I'd welcome views on why a Unitary Council doesn't make total sense and particularly given the disgraceful way in which some of the elected members, our representatives have acted out of self interest in the last few years. 3thinker
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