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Council's "significant challenges" to save £68m

Latest budget proposals show savings of £68 million are needed over four years

Leicestershire County Council has warned it faces “significant challenges” to save £68 million from its latest four-year budget.

Due to reduced funding, rising costs and demand for care services, the council calculates it has to save £68 million by 2020 and raise Council Tax by 3.99 per cent per year for the next three years. Only £44 million of those savings have been identified so far, leaving a £24 million shortfall.

 

We’ve saved £161 million since austerity started but we need to save a further £68 million. We have proposals to cover £44 million of this but that leaves a £24 million gap, so we’ll have to explore new ideas.

We appreciate that austerity is being extended for all councils but our problems are more acute, as we’re the lowest funded county council. A lot of pressure could be eased by fair funding and that’s why I’ve been working with MPs to convince the Government to reform the current, unfair formula.

 

Examples of identified savings that are due to be introduced over the next four years include:

  • £4.3 million from children’s social care placements, by using more foster care
  • £1.3 million by introducing smart (self-access) libraries and a central museums collections hub
  • £400,000 from a review of how recycling and household waste sites are run

Examples of areas where the council will have to consider further savings, to help bridge the £24 million gap, include:

  • Savings from providing a more joined-up service with partner organisations to support disabled people
  • A further review of the £10 million social care and special educational needs transport budget
  • Reviewing services where the council could generate income

It is estimated that savings of £68 million would lead to the loss of 400 posts – although figures cannot be finalised until more detailed reviews have taken place. At the moment, the council has 4,800 full time equivalent posts (7,900, including maintained schools).

The council is proposing to raise its share of Council Tax by 3.99 per cent for the next three years – the maximum permitted by the Government, including the adult social care precept - and then by 1.99 per cent in 2020/21. A 3.99 per cent rise would increase the county’s share of a band D bill by around £45 to £1,172 from April 2017.

Cabinet will consider the proposals and launch public consultation on them, when it meets at 2pm on Tuesday, 13 December. From 13 December to 10 January, you can comment on the proposals

Revenue budget:

The council’s spending on services is known as the revenue budget. It is proposed that this will be £347 million in 2017/18.

The biggest budget area is adults and communities (predominantly adult social care), which is £133 million, followed by environment and transport £65 million, and children and family services  £60.5 million

Council Tax:

The county council’s precept makes up the largest share of Council Tax bills in Leicestershire. Total bills include precepts levied by the police and crime commissioner, the fire authority and parish or town councils

Capital budget:

Separate to the revenue budget is the capital budget, funded by land and property sales and Government grants. This pays for buildings and equipment.

The capital programme will total £172 million over four years, with £69.6 million due to be spent in 2017/18.

Proposed capital spending includes £25.3 million on property and land assets to support economic development,  a £37 million investment in schools, £78.5 million on roads and  transport and £1.4 million on the Snibston and country park strategy. 

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