Public will lead the way on council’s future saving options

Local residents, communities, groups, organisations and partners will once again be asked to help the region’s largest local authority decide how to make further financial savings as it continues to meet the challenges of ongoing austerity.

Durham County Council has already made significant cuts to its budget and remains on target to hit the required £181million by the end of this financial year, including a reduction of more than 2,000 staff posts. Based on current financial predictions, Government information published to date and without yet knowing the full impact of leaving the European Union that will leave the authority with a further £64million to find by the end of 2019/20. This brings the total reductions across the period 2011 to 2020 to £245million.

The council has regularly consulted with the public in determining its financial plans and priorities and will now do so again in September this year, if Cabinet members agree the Medium Term Financial Plan paper next week (20 July, 2016).

Cllr Simon Henig is the Leader of Durham County Council: “We continue to face the toughest of times and many significant uncertainties, including the impact of leaving the European Union. In response it is vital that we continue our planned and managed approach to reaching our savings target and that we update our plans as further information becomes available.

“It is also very important that we continue to ask the public, our communities, local groups and organisations, employers and partner agencies for their thoughts on our proposals for further savings. Alongside this we’ll be seeking the public’s view on how we have managed the cuts to date.

“With that in mind Cabinet members are being asked to agree a major consultation exercise this September with the outcome of that process helping us decide how we progress. This will ensure that we are fully sighted on everyone’s priorities so that we can work together to do what must be done.”

Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr Alan Napier, added: “Whilst we are having to make these significant reductions, it is important we continue to protect, as best we can, some of our most vulnerable residents, and with that in mind members are also asked to agree a recommendation to county council that the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme be extended for another year.”

Pending agreement by Cabinet this early consultation and dialogue on the options and possibilities will begin in September and will involve all 14 of the council’s Area Action Partnerships, as well as online and targeted discussions with a wide variety of groups and organisations.

Cabinet will consider the paper when members meet at County Hall on Wednesday 20 July.