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£22m extra cuts could be needed
MORE than £22 million of fresh cuts could be needed at Worcestershire County Council under a bombshell forecast.
Bosses at County Hall are expecting to have to make millions of extra savings by 2016/17, and say further job losses are likely on top of those already announced.
They now say the BOLD scheme – Better Outcomes Leaner Delivery, which was drawn up to deliver up to £90 million of cutbacks by 2015 – is now unlikely to be enough.
The council’s medium term financial plan forecasts a black hole of £900,000 in 2013/14, which will be followed by a £3.7 million gap in 2015/16.
Finance chiefs also predict a whopping £17.7 million hole in the balance sheet by 2016/17.
Overall, that means an extra £22.3 million needs to be clawed back by the end of that period.
The BOLD project was due to end in 2015/16, but it will now be extended beyond that period to take account of the situation.
The figure of £22.3 million is essentially an assumption based on predictions around Government grants, income and the economy.
A report spelling out the predicament expects the base budget to shrink from £338 million now and just £325 million by that period, while inflation will also add £4 million to the council’s costs.
The problems were outlined at County Hall yesterday, and were debated during a meeting of the scrutiny board.
Coun Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “We’ve said we need to save £90 million but the reality is, it could be considerably more than that. The savings graph is going up relentlessly.
"There are going to be more reductions in the headcount, and we will be a smaller authority at the end of it.”
During the meeting he said “every single service” will be examined to determine if any can be hived off to new providers to save cash.
That increases the prospect of some people who lose jobs having their employment transferred elsewhere, rather than just ending up on the dole.
Trish Haines, the council’s chief executive, said: “We’re likely to have to shrink more as an organisation.”
The financial settlement from the Government for 2013/14 will only be known in December.
Bosses say they are struggling due to a “combination” of problems including an ever-increasing elderly population, inflation, demands on services increasing and the general economic outlook.