Council cuts to continue ‘for several years’

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A COUNCIL is set to face financial cuts for several years, according to a new report.

An update on Durham County Council’s finances outlines how difficult decisions about spending priorities look set to continue for several years.

The council’s Cabinet will consider its Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) – the plan which the authority uses to manage its budget and track its savings – when members meet at County Hall next week.

Following the Chancellor, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last week, the paper reveals the financial outlook remains extremely difficult and confirms that Government funding cuts will continue until at least 2018/19.

But, councillors will also hear that early planning and robust management will see the delivery of nearly £137m of savings by the end of this financial year.

Cabinet member for finance, Coun Alan Napier, said: “We have done what we can to lessen the impact of these cuts on front line services by using £10m from our reserves, but there is still more than £88m to save over the next three years.

“The total forecasted target we must meet by the end of 2017 is now £225.4m, a difficult task in anyone’s book.

“We will continue to plan ahead and to manage these reductions and to turn to the public to ensure we understand their spending priorities as we face the challenges ahead.”

The report to members will also ask for approval for the authority’s council tax base, which is the number of properties the authority will collect the tax from and at what level.

Members will hear that due to more houses being built in the county and due to changes to the eligibility around discounts and subsidies, the council will raise an extra £1.9m from 2015/16 which can be used to help manage the impact of its budget reductions.