County council agrees £38.6 million in budget cuts

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News from the Bury Free Press
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Suffolk County councillors have agreed plans to cut £38.6 million from the authority’s budget.

A meeting of the full council approved the savings for 2014-15, which are the first part in a four year plan to shave £156 million to make up the shortfall from a reduction in Government funding.

The authority also signed off a freeze in its share of the council tax.

Savings proposed for the coming financial year include £9 million by reintegrating Customer Service Direct services with the authority’s support services and £8.2 million from waste and recycling. Another £6.4 million will be saved through care purchasing by early intervention, telephone care and changing charging criteria.

Cllr Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “We’re faced with a challenging time ahead, with the restructuring of public finances it’s key that every penny from the tax payer is spent where it has absolute valued need. These significant savings that have been agreed will require continued firm management in 2014/15 and future years.

“Every department within the council understands the financial squeeze on public services and are committed to ensuring these savings are made, whilst trying to protect our much valued front line. This budget agreement delivers on that commitment.

“Tough decisions have had to be made to address the speed at which funding has been withdrawn from the county council. Looking forward, further reductions will be coming our way.

“I’m certain that as long as the county council is open with the public about the challenges we’re facing and works with its partners and staff to find ways of overcoming them, we will be able to manage these changes as effectively as possible.”

In a report to the meeting, Tracey Woods, strategic finance manager, said ‘major transformational change’ will be needed to meet the £156 million budget gap.