I have received the following press release from Buckinghamshire County Council, which illustrates the scale of the action needed to deal with the legacy of the last government:
COUNTY AGREES £9.2m SPENDING REDUCTIONS IN 2010/11 BUDGET
At a meeting unprecedented in Buckinghamshire County Council’s history, members today (Thursday 5 August) agreed a revised budget to achieve immediate in-year spending reductions of £9.2 million, to avoid spending £9m of taxpayers’ money that the council doesn’t have.
Increased spending pressures within some services and the reduction of the Government’s Area Based Grants to local authorities underpin the decisions taken today, at what is believed to be the only extraordinary budget meeting in Buckinghamshire’s long history.
Recommendations agreed were:
To recommend urgent changes to the current year’s budget – as set out in the July 26 Cabinet report (See link http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=14489)
To agree to fund the historic overspend on Client Transport of £885,000 from General Fund Reserves.
To note Leader David Shakespeare’s allocation of £1.2m from contingency funds to ease pressure in Children’s Safeguarding and to further note confirmation of £800,000 allocated within contingency funds to cover potential pressure identified in the Adults and Family Wellbeing portfolio, should this be required.
The council’s contingency funds are amounts of money held centrally for use on unexpected issues that may arise during the year. Repayment depends on circumstances and is judged case by case. Fund levels are regularly reviewed as part of the budget monitoring and medium term planning processes to ensure a prudent level is maintained.
Mr Shakespeare said: “The bottom line is that if we fail in our duty to deal with this emerging situation now, we would simply be guaranteeing having to make bigger and deeper cuts to public services because of the delay.
“While others may shy away from the difficult decision, we have to take responsibility for dealing with the situation now, and however regrettable some of these reductions may be, we have to take decisive action on behalf of our taxpayers.”
The council is already committed to making savings of £52m over the next four years through efficiencies, including £21m through its Transformation initiative.