Councillors to discuss proposals to cut £66 million from Leicestershire budget

Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes is urging people of the borough, and other interested parties, to take part in the draft Local Plan consultation EMN-170302-153040001
Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes is urging people of the borough, and other interested parties, to take part in the draft Local Plan consultation EMN-170302-153040001

Changes in children’s social care placements, services offered in libraries and museums and the operation of waste and recycling sites will form a major part of the £66 million County Hall must cut from its budget over the next four years.

The county’s share of Council Tax would also rise by 3.99 per cent over the next three years, representing an increase in a band D bill by around £45 to £1,172.38 from April 2017.

Members of Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet will debate the proposals on Friday.

Deputy council leader, Councillor Byron Rhodes, said: ““We’ve saved £161 million since austerity started but we need to save a further £66 million, despite an additional £2 million from the Government.

“We have proposals to cover £43 million of this target but that leaves a £23 million gap, so we’ll have to explore new ideas.

“We appreciate that austerity is being extended for all councils but our problems are more acute, as we’re the lowest funded county council. A lot of pressure could be eased by fair funding and that’s why I’ve been working with MPs to convince the Government to reform the current, unfair formula.”

The target for savings is slightly lower than the £68 million savings proposed in December, following updated information about an additional £1.3 million collected from Council Tax and business rates.

The council says a new £2.4 million adult social care grant from the government is welcome, but only provides a temporary increase in funding.

Examples of identified savings that are due to be introduced over the next four years include £4.3 million from children’s social care placements, by using more foster care, and £1.3 million by introducing smart (self-access) libraries and a central museums collections hub.

A further £400,000 will be saved from a review of how recycling and household waste sites are run.

The council is consider making cuts in its budget in a number of other areas.

It wants to provide a more joined-up service with partner organisations to support disabled people and make

a further review of the £10 million social care and special educational needs transport budget.

It is estimated that savings of £66 million would lead to the loss of 400 posts – although figures cannot be finalised until more detailed reviews have taken place.

At the moment, the council has 4,800 full time equivalent posts, rising to 7,900 to include maintained schools.

Friday’s meeting is at 10am and will be webcase online at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast with the final decision on the budget being taken by the full county council meeting on February 22.