A cash-strapped council today announced £32 million of cuts – bringing the total savings revealed in the Black Country in less than a week to more than £140m.
Dudley Council will need to make the extra cuts on top of an initially-predicted £26 million amount set earlier this year following a huge drop in Government funding.
The council had already planned for up to 334 job losses by 2017, as well as major cuts to its children’s services, museums and highways expenditure – but leader Councillor David Sparks today warned more savings must be found.
It comes after Wolverhampton City Council’s finance bosses outlined the first £64.4m of cuts – and warned at least another £33m would need to be found by 2018. Walsall Council needs to save £19m in 2014/15.
Wolverhampton faces losing Central Baths and Walsall Museum could be axed to make the savings.
Councillor Sparks said officers will be looking ‘at everything’ in a bid to fill the massive shortfall, which he says has been caused by the slump in Government funding. Funding is predicted to fall from £74m next year to £40m in three years.
And he said council tax – which has remained frozen for the past three years – will be reviewed as part of the process.
He said: “Services will need to be cut back further and clearly there will need to be a reduction in the workforce. We will do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies, but we can not guarantee everyone’s jobs when we have such a funding gap proposed by this Government. The whole system of funding local government will need to be reviewed. It is in crisis.”
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Asked what his message for the residents in Dudley was, he said: “My intention as the leader of this council is to maintain the fabric and framework of the council, but I accept that we will need to find new ways of providing services and we are now considering our options. My message is that Dudley Council is always doing its best we can in difficult circumstances.”
Government funding comes to the council in the form of a Revenue Support Grant.
The council’s predicted grant income was calculated last month and the budgets amended to show a new £32m shortfall at the end of the next three years.
A budget had already been proposed for the next three years with savings of £9m in 2014/15, moving up to £18m by 2015/16 and £26m by 2016/17. This will go back to the cabinet next week for the required extra savings to be considered. At the meeting, members will be asked to agree to a voluntary redundancy programme for next year.
Yesterday, department directors met with staff and union representatives to present the situation.