Key Somerset County Councillors have endorsed plans to deliver a balanced budget despite huge financial pressures.
The proposals look to deliver £18m of savings in the next financial year while protecting the frontline and meeting the rising demand for services.
Like all local authorities, the council has faced a dramatic reduction in funding over the last six years and has made more than £120m of savings during that time. This year alone the key funding from Government is falling by a further £16m.
The savings targets for 2017/18 focus on increased efficiency, better use of technology, getting more from contracts and reducing the use of agency staff.
“This is a balanced approach to deliver a balanced budget at a time of extreme financial pressure for all local councils,” said Councillor Harvey Siggs, Cabinet Member for Resources.
“We have to find savings and are committed to doing so in a way that allows us to carry on delivering services we can be proud of. An emphasis will be on continuing to raise our performance in areas like procurement to make sure we are getting the services we want a price we can afford.”
The savings for 2017/18 include:
- £1.5m from the return of South West One services to the authority.
- £400,000 from reduced spend on agency staff.
- £1.6m from better contracting.
- £10m from redesigning services and bringing spend in some key areas -such as care placements for children and adults – into line with good performing authorities.
As part of the proposals, Cabinet also endorsed a Council Tax increase of 1.99 per cent. A further 2 per cent ring-fenced for Adult Social Care was also supported along with keeping the Somerset Rivers Authority precept at the last year’s level of 1.25 per cent.
Cabinet recommended that the budget proposals be approved when Full Council meets on Wednesday, 15 February.