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Council budget cut by £12m in last six months
MORE than £12 million has been slashed from spending at Worcestershire County Council in the last six months under the authority’s biggest-ever budget cull.
Bosses say the Better Outcomes Leaner Delivery programme – known as BOLD – is performing ahead of expectations.
The controversial project, which lasts until the 2015/16 financial year, is aimed at saving up to £90 million from spending.
It includes 857 job losses, of which more than 300 have gone already, and cuts in everything from IT to libraries, street lighting, back office functions and almost every council department.
In the 2011/12 year, the first period of BOLD, £31 million was cut from spending and so far in 2012/13, bosses have saved another £12.5 million, taking it to £43.5 million.
The authority hopes to have saved about £50 million in total from the BOLD programme by next April.
A report detailing some of the savings so far under BOLD includes the scrapping of 794 PCs, with staff told to ‘hot desk’ instead.
The move will save about £350,000 by 2016 in electricity costs, maintenance and bills for replacing bits of equipment.
Another key saving has been in adult care, with £1.6 million clawed back by contracting out 160,000 hours of home care services to an external provider.
There are also hopes millions of pounds could be saved from getting residents to volunteer to do jobs on behalf of the authority, such as trimming hedges and staffing libraries.
The only area of concern which has been flagged up is children’s social care placements, which is forecast to be £2.6 million over budget this year.
But the loss is being offset by underspends in other departments.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader of the county council, said: “BOLD is still very much on track and we are pleased with the direction it is going in.
“We were one of the first councils in the country to get our statutory financial statement signed off, which is very pleasing.
“Having the adverse variance in children’s care placements spending is not a surprise, and it is placing pressure on the budget, but we are doing sterling work on it.”
The Audit Commission has given County Hall’s finances a clean bill of health, as your Worcester News first reported last week.