Crucial Council budget-balancing plans go through Scrutiny

Spending and savings plans embodying the scale of the financial challenge being met by Somerset County Council took their next step last Friday (January 30).

County Councillors from two separate Scrutiny Committees came together for two back-to-back meetings at Taunton Conference Centre to consider and comment on the authority’s future budget proposals.

The plans detail more than £300m of spend and a Council Tax Freeze for a sixth year in a row, along with necessary savings.

John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “I am glad to note that the breadth of proposals was subject to several hours of in-depth discussion, comment and debate by the Committees.

“I would also like to thank those members of the public who came and expressed their views and gave their valued input.

“As a Council we have a considerable challenge ahead of us to continue delivering the services we have an irrefutable legal duty to provide for the people of Somerset, against the backdrop of a stark drop in support from Central Government – a loss of £20million in one year.

“This is as pressure on, particularly, Adults Social Care and Children’s Services, which alone represent £126million of our Council budget, continues to rise.

“In light of this raw deal it is inevitable that we will have to make and consider some very difficult decisions, because ensuring the budget balances is our legal duty. I know we are all anticipating the next stage of this process when Cabinet meets on 9 February.”

Points raised in the Scrutiny meetings will be carried forward to Cabinet on Monday 9 February 2015. There, Members will discuss and make decisions on the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2015/16-2018/19, and the Capital Investment Programme for 2015/16.

To read the documents, visit www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/meetings/ and search for ‘Cabinet’. Or, if you request a hard copy version of the agenda and papers, phone the Community Governance Group on 01823 357628.

Notes to editors

To find out who the elected Somerset County Councillor is for a particular area, simply visit www.somerset.gov.uk/councillors-and-democracy/councillors/somerset-county-councillors/