CASH-strapped Worcestershire County Council chiefs have revealed they still need to find savings of £58million over the next two years – and haven’t ruled out a council tax rise to help plug the gap.
County Hall chiefs also revealed how most of the savings have already been found for 2017/18, but they still have a £2.9million black hole to deal with before the draft budget is published in December.
A further £29million must also be saved in both 2018/19, and a further £25million worth of savings to be made in 2019/20- with the Conservative leadership already working on a plan to close the funding gap.
Details of the further spending cuts emerged at a briefing at County Hall on Friday (November 11) where the Conservative leadership also revealed a raft of ideas to help reach their target.
Council leader Coun Simon Geraghty claimed tough decisions had already been made and the fresh proposals were about better use of council assets and growing its income, rather than more ‘traditional cuts.’
Among the package of cutbacks in the money-saving proposals are further efforts to reduce council tax fraud and error, renegotiating contracts with private contractors, cutting cash spent on waste disposal and better use of the council’s buildings across the county.
Coun Geraghty said: “We’ve done a lot of work and have a lot more to do, but we think we’ve got a programme of genuine reform.
“When we’re talking about these proposals they are about extra income, better use of our assets and doing things differently, that yes saves money, but actually has a better outcome.
“What they’re not about is straight forward frontline reductions that will be noticeable to the public.
“We’ve had to do changes and very difficult things over the last few years, but what we’re trying to do in this programme is move it into being a genuinely reforming, longer-term vision and how do we do things differently which are better for the public, but also better for our budget.
Coun Geraghty was unable to rule out a rise in council tax for 2017/18 due to not knowing the final figures until the draft budget is finalised and admitted the idea was ‘open for discussion’.
“I can’t give you an honest answer because it is something we want to engage with people on, but we won’t be able to do that until the draft budget, because it isn’t until the draft budget that you have all the figures,” he added.