County must find £30m of savings in three years

WORK is under way to find £30million of council cuts in the next three years.

Northumberland County Council must save the cash after already cutting back by £100m since 2009.

The authority will move to a three-year budget planning cycle, which officials say will encourage a longer term approach and avoid cuts to the same services every year.

Priorities identified during public consultation last year will be taken into account during the process.

Council Leader Jeff Reid said: “The council will need to make some difficult decisions over the next three years because we need to save at least £30million during that time.

“This isn’t going to be an easy task coming on top of the £100million we’ve already saved since 2009.

“This is probably the most challenging financial climate for the public sector right across the country and Northumberland is no different.

“We’re determined to make the best use of the money we have available.

“By becoming even more efficient and squeezing value out of every penny we invest in our operations I’m confident that we can continue providing an excellent service for Northumberland residents.

“Local people have told us what they value the most and we’ll be aiming to shape our services around those specific needs.

“By taking a longer-term approach this time the savings we do identify will be more measured, planned and deliverable in line with our overall spending plans.”

Individual council departments are now trying to find a range of potential savings before a series of specific proposals will be drawn up.

The budget plans will be discussed by all county councillors, area committees, town and parish councils to ensure that local communities are involved in the decision-making.

A final set of formal proposals will be considered by councillors in February.

Coun Reid added: “Despite these very tough conditions we must continue investing in local services and providing the framework for people in Northumberland to thrive.

“An additional £42million investment in the captial programme this year showed that we can still have a major impact on people’s lives by investing in key priorities, such as schools, leisure, flood defence, roads and affordable housing — all areas that residents tell us are the most important to them.”