If you have a story call our newsdesk on 01722 426511 or email us. To advertise call 01722 426500.
Frontline services protected despite budget cuts, says council leader
WILTSHIRE Council leader Jane Scott said the council’s proposed budget for next year will protect front line services, despite making cuts of £27million.
The council has received a cut in funding from central government or £9.8million, or three per cent, for 2013/14.
The amount of savings the Tory-run council proposes to make is £27.6million.
The council made savings of £32million this current financial year and £33million the year before as part of the cuts to public spending by the Government.
In the next financial year the council is proposing to cut 200 jobs, although cllr Scott said some of the affected posts were vacant while others were filled by agency staff.
Since it became a unitary council in 2009 it has cut 614 posts, including the chief executive and two corporate director posts.
The savings of £27million include £4.5million in buying in services, made through measures such as changing the highway contract, and £10.3million in efficiencies across services.
Cllr Scott said moving from five councils in Wiltshire to one meant it had better buying power and was the reason why it was managing to make savings in back office functions.
The year after next the council is predicting making savings of £22.5million and cllr Scott admitted it was getting harder to reduce costs in the back office.
She said: “Year on year it will become more difficult and I don’t think we have got to the worst bit yet.
"Public services will be hit in the new spending review so we have got to plan for that.
"I think I’m confident for the next couple of years that we can manage it.”
She said the council would have to increase working with other organisations such as the police and the new Clinical Commissioning Group to save money across public services.
She added that the council would be encouraging more people to volunteer to assist services such as good neighbour schemes and maintaining public rights of way.
The council’s reserves are predicted to be £12.5million at the end of March after using £1.7million this year for looking after children in care.
Some fees and charges for services will rise by 2.6 per cent while the average rent increase for council housing tenants will be £2.92 per week, or 3.4 per cent.
The Cabinet’s proposed budget will be decided on at a full meeting of Wiltshire Council on Tuesday.