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County council chiefs drop £20m bombshell
10:10am Thursday 17th May 2012 in Local
MORE cuts are on the way at Worcestershire County Council with bosses revealing a £20 million bombshell.
Council chiefs who are already slashing £70 million from spending by 2014 are looking to increase it to £90 million.
Work is already under way to look at where savings can be made, with more job losses expected.
A report on the cuts reveals how the original £70 million scheme “will not be sufficient to meet further funding reductions” expected from the Government.
It states that a “substantial upward revision” is required in order to balance the books.
The report has already been criticised by opposing political groups, who have labelled it “disgraceful”.
The Government handed the council a grant of £99.6 million for the current 2012/13 financial year, but it was 7.8 per cent less than 2011 – one of the worst drops in the country.
The grants for the next two years have yet to be revealed, but are also expected to be grim due to the austerity measures.
In a bid to pre-empt that, bosses are examining where the additional £20 million of cuts could fall.
Councillor Peter McDonald, leader of the county’s Labour group, said: “The last couple of years have been horrendous and this will make it even worse.
“To look at saving another £20 million on top of £70 million is just frightening, we should be protesting to the Government, not saying to them, ‘Let’s have some more cutbacks’. We are making it too easy for them.”
Councillor Liz Tucker, Lib Dem group leader, said: “The council is trying to look ahead and identify potential cuts before anything nasty comes along from the Government.
“It is a concern, of course. The argument we will have to have, is whether this is needed or not.”
A report will go to the authority’s Conservative cabinet in September or October, which will reveal where the fresh cuts will fall.
About 170 people have been made compulsory redundant so far under the cuts scheme, which is called BOLD – Better Outcomes Leaner Delivery.
The scheme, which started in 2010 and runs until the 2014/15 financial year, includes provision for cutting the workforce by 857 in total, of which more than 300 posts have gone already.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, leader of the county council, said: “It is difficult to predict exactly how our circumstance may be affected over the coming years, and we can’t promise there won’t be further post reductions.
“However, frontline services will be protected as much as possible and compulsory redundancies kept to a minimum.”
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