County Council outlines service cuts

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As the Lincolnshire County Council prepares to shave off a quarter of its spending over the next four years, the authority outlined on Monday the range of services it plans to cut budgets from.

The County Council will put forward to its Executive on January 5 a report that outlines which services will be affected by the 11.2% government funding cuts announced last week.

To prepare for the storm ahead, the County Council has put aside £15million for redundancies payouts next year as it prepares to lay off 1,000 out of its 6,000-strong workforce in the next four years.

The government froze council tax payments for next year, so the County Council lined up a 2.5% council tax rise for three consecutive years from 2012, to make up for the cuts in central grants.

Some of the services where cuts will be applied are targeted children’s services, culture and adult education, economic regeneration, adult social care, trading standards and youth offending.

Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The budget looks at proposing savings based on decisions about which services we believe are essential and which whilst desirable, could be reduced, delivered in a different way, or stopped.

“Public safety is a particular priority and the budget proposes to protect funding in areas including safeguarding children, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, PCSOs, gritting roads and highways maintenance.

“Economic regeneration and tourism, although discretionary services, will remain with some proposed reduced funding. We want to facilitate business growth, maintain relationships with economic partners, and encourage investment in Lincolnshire.

“The council’s total income will reduce and our spending must reduce accordingly. We have been reducing our operating costs and have made efficiency saving wherever possible, for example our reduction in the number of senior managers by 30% saving the authority £3.5m per year.”

Further public consultation and scrutiny of the budget proposals will take place in January. The budget will then be reviewed again on 1 February by the Executive who will issue their final proposal, to be considered and a final decision made by Full Council on 11 February.

The full County Council budget proposal report [PDF]

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Several core Lincolnshire County Council services will be affected by the budget cuts, while other services will be protected, as outlined below (click to enlarge):

Adult Social Care

Budget proposals for the Adult Social Care service total 28% over four years, with year one showing the most reduction.

However, £12million of funding for the increasing number of older people in the county has been put aside.

The adult social care is the council’s largest budget, currently at £130million per year, which will be reduced by over £6million by 2015.

Children’s Services

The Children’s Services will see a decrease of 23% of the base budget, which is currently at £10.8million, to be reduced to £800,000 by 2015.

The number of managers will be reduced together with the service offers and contracts for non-statutory community based services will be stopped.

Roads and Transport

Spending on road maintenance will increase by almost £2million by 2013 to £45.3million, and the council will continue to support the Road Safety Partnership.

However, the Dial-A-Ride service will be scrapped, and there will be reduced frequency of grass cutting, weed control and public rights of way maintenance.

The 14.5% budget cuts in the first year will also affect frequencies of repairs for street lighting and traffic signals.

The concessionary bus pass will remain in place, so will the budget for gritting and winter maintenance.

Fire & Rescue and Emergency Planning

The budget for Fire & Rescue will reduce by £1million in 2011/12 via internal restructuring, removing posts currently vacant and reduced community fire safety activity.

There will be no changes to the number of fire stations or the number of appliances the service will have.

The Emergency Planning services, dealing with floods, pandemic flu, etc., will lose 9.8% of its budget, which will be done by not replacing staff due to leave.

Economic Regeneration

The budget for Economic Regeneration will be reduced from £4.1million to just over £3million in 2014/15, with back office functions cut and less direct support to community groups.

Organisational Support and Improvement

The Resources Directorate had a budget of £26.9million, with will reduce by £4.8million by 2015, mainly by scaling down on outsources serviced, usually provided by Mouchel.
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