County Hall has warned it might not in the future be able to afford to run services it is legally obliged to provide as a result of having to find ‘significantly more’ than the £87 million it had planned to save over the next four years.
A report to the county council’s ruling Cabinet says ‘increasingly tough choices’ will be required without extra funding and proposes a briefing for local MPs.
The council has already saved £100m plus since the last Government announced the need for austerity measures to cut public spending.
The authority says announcements made by the Government in its summer budget will heap even more pressure on its finances.
It says the introduction of a national living wage could increase the council’s costs by £7m next year, rising to £23m by 2020. The Government has also said council budgets will remain unprotected, meaning spending cuts will continue for at least the next four years.
County Hall’s deputy leader Byron Rhodes said: “This is the tipping point. We’ve done our best to protect vulnerable people during the last five years of cuts but, faced with the need to make even greater savings, every budget will have to face its share of pain.
“We’re not crying wolf. We’re now getting to the point where it will be very difficult to afford those services we’re legally obliged to provide.
“We won’t know precisely how badly our funding will be hit until the end of this year but it’s clear we’ve got to start planning now for deeper cuts.
“We remain one of the country’s lowest funded and lowest spending authorities. If we were funded at the same rate as the average county council we’d be £31m better off, excluding council tax, or £48m, including council tax.”
The council will review its savings targets over the next few months, in the light of Government announcements, before publishing its budget proposals in January.
The Cabinet will discuss the report tomorrow.