Suffolk: Councillors debate making almost £39million of cuts for 2014/15

Suffolk County Council's headquarters, Endeavour House

Suffolk County Council's headquarters, Endeavour House - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has met to discuss how it can cut away almost £39million from its forthcoming budget with a further £120million needed to be saved by 2018.

The council is seeing its Government funding decrease by tens of millions of pounds resulting in services preparing for cuts of 30%.

Cabinet member for finance and property, councillor Colin Noble, said in today’s scrutiny meeting, the authority would have to put its “hand on heart” when engaging with residents as it faced an “immensely difficult time”.

“Taking this money out is not optional – this is something that we have to do,” he said.

“If we do not do it – what are we going to do? This is about protecting frontline services; the services that we deliver are absolutely critical to the lives of many of our residents.

“What we are debating here is how we do it and minimise the impact of having to make the savings.”

But the planned cuts by the Conservative-led administration have been criticised by Labour which argues the council should be using some of its £200million reserves.

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Labour leader Sandy Martin said: “The total usable reserves on 31 March, 2011, was £131million. On 31 March 2012, it was £167million. On 31 March 2013, it was £197million – so in fact it’s been going up by more than £30million each year. So the idea that we could not spend that is completely untenable.”

Mr Noble said the council was going to spend its earmarked reserves – which would leave “just over £10million” in unallocated money – about “1.9%” of the authority’s budget.

The two biggest individual savings are expected to come from the new waste incinerator in Great Blakenham - which would save £8.2million in landfill taxes a year – and £9million when its Customer Service Direct contract with BT finishes.

The council has commissioned an Ipsos Mori survey to find out what services residents expect it to be providing.

Last month it was revealed Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council could share some services in a bid to make savings.

The budget will be further discussed by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet in the new year. A final decision will be taken in February.

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