County council must work with others to solve financial woes, says leader

Droitwich Advertiser: Leader of Worcestershire County Council Adrian Hardman Leader of Worcestershire County Council Adrian Hardman

ONLY by working in partnership with other councils will County Hall solve its financial woes, according to the leader.

Councillor Adrian Hardman said Worcestershire County Council stands a better chance of meeting ambitious savings targets if it goes forward in unison.

It was reported last week, a budget gap of £22 million is forecast by 2016/17 due to increasing demands on services, reduced government funding and the impact of the economic situation.

The black hole means a controversial savings project called BOLD, Better Outcomes Lean Delivery, will now need to be extended beyond 2015 and increased to more than £100 million.

Coun Hardman, speaking before a meeting of the Conservative cabinet, said all the county’s councils needed to work together.

One idea is to ‘pool’ collection of business taxes across the county.

In addition to that, changes to the council tax benefits scheme next year, which mean local councils rather than the Government will be responsible for managing the system, has given partnership work even more importance.

Coun Hardman said: “We are looking very closely at how we can deal with the changes as we go forward.

“It is vital we get this as right as possible by working very much in partnership with our district councils.

“I’m also very pleased we are working towards formulating a Worcestershire pool for business rates – it gives us a chance of retaining money which would otherwise be lost to the county.

“By working together we can benefit Worcestershire as a whole.”

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