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County Council to discuss more budget reductions

Plans to bridge a savings shortfall have been set out by Derbyshire County Council in its updated five year financial plan which will be discussed next week.

The council’s Cabinet will consider the updated plan, which sets out how the authority aims to balance the books up to 2023-24, at its meeting next Wednesday (11 September).

Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said that while the council continued to face budget challenges, with significant pressures in children’s social care, special educational needs provision, highways maintenance and waste, the Enterprising Council approach was ensuring modern and innovative ways of providing services were being explored and value for money continued to be at the heart of all the council’s work.

Councillor Lewis said: “As with authorities across the country, we continue to face significant challenges, which is why we are an Enterprising Council and are continuing with our Fair Funding campaign, lobbying Derbyshire MPs, Central Government and individual Ministers to insist that funding for local authorities is shared out fairly and can cover the rising cost of vital services.

“With prudent management we aim to achieve and maintain a stable financial position and our plans still include freezing council tax for two years if possible. However, there is much work to be done and difficult decisions to make over the next five years.”

By 2024 the council must make a total of £63m of savings, on top of the £257m already achieved since 2010. 

In the updated five year financial plan new areas for savings have been identified which, if agreed, could help to meet the target over the next five years.

The proposed new savings areas include the b_line discount card for young people, restrictions on usage of household waste recycling centres for people living outside the county, managing demand on the council’s legal services, adult care programmes, Derbyshire Record Office and an arts grants review.

Over the term of the updated plan, the council will also use £39m of reserves to ensure that the savings targets can be met in a sustainable planned way to try to minimise the impact on residents.

It is forecast that the general reserves position will change from £64.5m in 2019-20 to £18.3m by 2023-24, although that will still be at an acceptable level if all savings identified are achieved on time. 

Councillor Lewis said: “As well as detailing our financial position, the five year plan also highlights our progress and performance on major projects including the success of the Markham Vale enterprise zone which has already brought more than 1,600 jobs to the local area with a further 2,700 planned.

“It references the large scale reclamation of contaminated brownfield sites which can be developed for housing and employment, and notes the re-start of the council’s £30m care programme to provide modern care homes for older people.”

Councillor Lewis added: “There’s a lot of good news to give and we’re working hard to ensure we continue to run an effective and efficient council providing the best value for money for the people of Derbyshire. However, we do need the support of Government and a fair funding settlement to carry on providing top quality services to people who need them most.” 

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