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Fresh cuts of £25m at County Hall
FRESH cuts of at least £25 million are on the way at Worcestershire County Council over the next four years, it has emerged.
Your Worcester News can reveal next year’s savings target alone has surged 50 per cent to a whopping £30m to balance the books.
And in the following three financial years after 2014/15, old savings targets of around £20m per year are being torn up and replaced by new requirements of around £25m.
The new crisis is because of major demographic pressures, including more elderly and vulnerable people, and the ongoing public sector spending squeeze.
A series of briefings have been held by County Hall chiefs this week informing outside bodies about the situation.
The fresh cuts have been described as “shocking” by some community leaders, who have insisted every effort should be made to lobby the Government for more cash.
It follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments that the age of austerity could last to 2020.
Councillor Peter McDonald, opposition Labour group leader, said: “When we started making these cuts the rhetoric was ‘we’ll be ok, it will only last until 2015 and will be frontloaded’.
“It was all ‘take the medicine now, and things will get better’. Well it’s now getting worse and I’m shocked, amazed and upset.
“How they will make these savings, I don’t know - I don’t see how any services can be safe now.”
The Conservative leadership says it wants to “plan ahead” but insists it will try and keep more job cuts to a minimum.
Under an old plan, around 650 posts were due to be axed by 2017/18, taking the workforce below 3,000 for the first time in history.
That figure was first revealed by your Worcester News back in January this year.
More details will only start to emerge over the coming months about how the first raft of savings will be made.
The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (OSPB) on Thursday October 24 will look at some very early proposals.
Then, a cabinet meeting will take place on Thursday November 7 which will lead to a major public consultation ahead of setting next year's budget.
More proposals will come forward during the winter ahead of the decisions for 2014/15 being finalised early next year.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “We are still working through the detail of how to make the savings but nobody can say they are surprised.
“We’re having to make savings to deliver the services we want to deliver - we’re having to find an extra £3m or £4m just to deal with the demographic pressures.”
He said the authority "remained committed to protecting vulnerable residents in the county and investing in the future", adding that "others may provide services that we have historically provided".
All services are under review to look at the possibility to hand them to outside providers, known as commissioning.