Council staff urged to save �50,000 a day

SUFFOLK'S chief executive has called on her staff to save �50,000 a day in a bid to shake off the recession.

Graham Dines

SUFFOLK'S chief executive has called on her staff to save �50,000 a day in a bid to shake off the recession.

Andrea Hill aims to boost the council's coffers by �2million over the next six weeks.

The recession fund has been set-up to ease the economic difficulties of small business and families struggling with the downturn.

In an email to members of staff, Mrs Hill asked staff to consider whether meetings they would normally attend or projects they would embark on are really necessary.

If they are not, or can be achieved by either video conferencing, employees should stay at their desks and put the equivalent cost of train tickets and mileage into the recession pot.

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The money is not coming out of employees' pockets - it is cash that would have been spent but which now ensure front line services are in a position to give out grants during the economic downturn.

Mrs Hill's appeal is direct. “I need your help,” she says in her email.

“In Suffolk the recession is beginning to bite. Firms are tightening their belts, reducing costs and we have begun to see some redundancies. But we have not yet felt the severity of the downturn. Later this year, and next year, I feel we will,” wrote the chief executive.

“In times like these people rightly look to the council for help. Our political leaders are determined that we should redouble our efforts to support the most vulnerable people of Suffolk and to help the economy ride out the storm.”

The county council last week approved a budget of �470million, part of which created a fund of �750,000 to help those affected by the credit crunch, with a further �5m directed into services for the most vulnerable.

Mrs Hill continued: “I've asked everyone across the council to find even more ways of saving money, no matter how small. It's an ambitious target, and I don't know if we'll be able to make it - but I know that every penny will help us support the people of this county.

“Employees are being asked to decide not to spend money on something they would have done at work in the next six weeks and then transfer that money into a special fund we have set up. That fund will be used for front line services that come under extra demand.

“It means later this year, when the impact of the recession gets worse, we will have money to respond to problems in the local economy for helping individual communities and families who are in trouble.”

The chief executive started the ball rolling by deciding not to attend an event in London at which she would have represented the county council. “The money not spent on attending the event, I have transferred from my budget to the fund. It's only a small amount, but if we all take small actions the money will soon mount up. It's quick. It's simple. And it's a way everybody can help.”

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke welcomed the initiative as an “excellent scheme that shows Suffolk is a caring county”.