Council admits budget must be slashed by an eye-watering £150 million ... AGAIN

The council must cut its budget by �150m says Derrick Ashley, Cabinet Member for Resources and Transformation
The council must cut its budget by �150m says Derrick Ashley, Cabinet Member for Resources and Transformation

Hertfordshire County Council has admitted some difficult decisions lie ahead and wants your views on how its reduced budget should be spent in the future.

Over the next four years, the council will need to reduce its budget by £150m and says it is because of a greater demand for its services combined with a reduction in the amount of money coming in from central government. That is the same amount the council had to slash its budget by between 2010 and 2014.

As the county’s population ages and more people require care, the council said more of its budget will be spent on supporting older people. It said an additional £7.4m was spent on social care and health this year while there is also a growing number of children in the county who need school places.

Derrick Ashley, Cabinet Member for Resources and Transformation, said the council’s efficiency can only stretch so far.

“We’ve worked hard over the past four years to deliver annual savings of £149m, mainly by doing things differently behind the scenes to become more efficient – such as providing human resources, finance and facilities management services jointly with other public sector organisations,” he said.

“We will continue to seek out ways of making efficiencies. But given the tough financial challenge we face, this can only go so far.

“We need to make some important decisions about how we allocate money and we want your views. If you live in Hertfordshire these decisions affect you, so please have your say.”

Between 2010 and 2018, the council’s £1bn budget would have been reduced by around 30%.

In October County Hall chiefs were forced to defend plans to spend up to £1m on launching a new website.

The council said it based the figure on what products are available and what it cost other large organisations to do the same thing.

But it is hoped the ‘next generation website’ will actually save the authority up to £240,000 a year when it is launched in 2016.

To have your say on how the council spends its money give your views online at www.hertsdirect.org/budgetsurvey before Monday January 11.

A paper version is also available if you send your name and address to corporate.policyteam@hertfordshire.gov.uk before December 28.