£7m in extra cuts on the cards for North East Lincolnshire
AN extra £7-million in cuts is on the cards for North East Lincolnshire as it braces itself for further austerity measures by the Government.
The age of austerity is set to continue, warned council bosses yesterday – as they predicted that the extra savings will have to be made by 2016.
The £7-million would be on top of the £43-million in savings the authority has already announced it needs to make over the four years up to the end of 2014-15 – a programme that will also see around 105 posts deleted from the organisation over the next financial year.
Now, with the government declaring that public sector cutbacks will continue for at least one more year than initially planned, the council expects it will have to save a further £7-million in the 2015-16 financial year.
MAYFAIR ESTATE AGENTS
If we cannot find you a tenant within one month, we will find you one for FREE, yes FREE, you will pay no fees
Contact: 01472 355553
Terms: Terms and Conditions Apply
Contact: 01472 355 553
Valid until: Friday, May 24 2013
If the prediction, which is being built into the council's medium term financial plan, comes true, it will mean the authority's budget will have shrunk by a third in the space of just five years – from £150-million in 2010-11 to £100-million in 2015-16.
The council will find out on December 12 how much money it will receive from central government for the next financial year. It is currently working on the assumption that its grant will be five per cent lower than this year.
Yesterday, council leader Chris Shaw, pictured, insisted that although the authority would continue to focus on making backroom and efficiency savings in order to protect frontline services, he added that there would be "no sacred cows" when it came to considering cost reductions.
Although specific cost-saving measures will not be identified until the draft budget for 2013-14 is published in December, Councillor Shaw hinted that more "unpopular decisions" could be in the pipeline.
He said that charges may have to be increased for currently subsidised services, and added that services such as grass-cutting and street cleaning could be reduced, along with opening hours for libraries and children's centres.
Mr Shaw said: "We have a commitment to the people of North East Lincolnshire to deliver on our priorities which are creating jobs and looking after the vulnerable. We have told officers there are no sacred cows, and we are still waiting for them to come back with their recommendations."
On a more positive note, residents are in line for a fourth consecutive council tax freeze. However, the already-specified government grant only partially covers the cost to NELC of aborting a planned three per cent rise, leaving the council with a £1.2-million shortfall it will have to fill by other means.
Council chief executive Tony Hunter said that the authority's planned and phased approach to cost reductions had put the authority in a stable financial position, enabling it to plan long-term rather than being forced into knee-jerk decisions.
He said that projected figures showed there would be 82 staff redundancies – 19 of them compulsory – by the end of this financial year, which will see the authority make savings of £13-million.
In 2013-14, when the council will have to save a further £9-million, around 105 posts will be deleted, although it is too early to say how many staff will be directly affected.
Mr Hunter added that a further 98 fixed term contracts are due to end in March 2013, but said some of those may be extended.
He vowed that the authority would continue to work towards being a "smaller and smarter council".
Citing the example of the Improving Customer Experience programme, which will enable residents to pay their council tax in shops and supermarkets, he stressed that many cost-saving measures would result in improved services to the public as well.
The council will publish its draft 2013-14 budget in December, with the final version being approved by full council in February.
At the same time, further afield in East Lindsey, residents are being urged to have their say on the district council's spending priorities for 2013-14.
The council expects to cut a further £1.2-million from its £18-million budget next year, following a saving of £4.85-million in the previous two years.
ELDC will be holding a district-wide consultation on its budget proposals until November 23.
The consultation survey can be found online at www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation. Hard copies are available at Customer Access Points, libraries, Tourist Information Centres and leisure centres.
Meanwhile, in other North East Lincolnshire Council-related matters, the first in a series of consultation events was held in Cleethorpes yesterday, inviting residents to have their say on the new Local Plan. It will determine the areas of the borough that can be earmarked for housing and business – see tomorrow's Grimsby Telegeraph for full coverage.