Councils ask: how can we save more?

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JUST two months after residents in Mid Suffolk and Babergh threw out plans to merge the two councils, the authorities have announced that they must find an extra £4.6 million of savings.

The merger of Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) and Babergh District Council (BDC) would have led to yearly savings of £800,000, but after residents voted against it both councils are now asking them to come up with ideas on how to save money.

For the next two months the councils will be running the budget challenge, encouraging residents and community groups to answer questions about how the council currently runs and how services could be run in the future.

Cllr Nick Ridley, chairman of the Strategic and Financial Planning Task Group at BDC, said the process is an ‘open call for ideas to help us balance our books in tough times’.

The ideas will then be evaluated before detailed budget proposals are drawn up in the autumn.

Mid Suffolk and Babergh need to make savings of £2.8 million next year after reductions in government funding, increases in inflation and demand on services.

The councils must find an additional £4.6 million worth of savings in the next two years, from a combined budget of £20 million.

Cllr Derrick Haley, portfolio holder for finance at MSDC, said: “Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have already begun to look at ways of achieving these tough saving targets, these include joining our staffing structures together (known as integration), and improving how we purchase goods and services from outside suppliers but this is not enough. We need to do more.”

Integration of services is set to save the councils an estimated £1 million a year.

For more information on the budget challenge go to www.midsuffolk.gov.uk or www.babergh.gov.uk