Monday, 26 October 2015

Proposed savings set out for Corporate Services

As Cambridgeshire County Council works to achieve savings of £41m next year, proposals have been published on where cuts are likely to be made in Corporate Services.

Communities across the county are being warned of difficult choices as the Council tries to make the savings while simultaneously meeting increased pressures on services.

The Council’s Service Committees meet in November to look at proposals to meet the major financial challenge of £41 million savings next year and more than £100 million over the next five years. This follows savings of £218 million since 2009.

As part of these savings the Council’s Corporate Services have been asked to make £412,000 in savings next year. The savings are concentrated on reducing senior management costs while ensuring core and statutory services, such as emergency planning and the contact centre are funded. Corporate Services is also looking at staffing, income generation and working smarter to make sure the Council can continue to find efficiencies and reduce costs.

The Service is suggesting a range of proposals and re-organisation that will be discussed at the General Purposes Committee on 24 November. Officers and members will be working together to mitigate these proposals as much as possible and they may change.

These include:

  • Sharing a Chief Executive with Peterborough – at least £100,000 in savings
  • Increasing the cost of applying for a Blue Badge for three years from the current £9 to the national £10 rate and for replacing lost or stolen badges from £5 to £10. This is due to increased costs of dealing with Blue Badges. It currently costs the Council £230,000 to deal with Blue Badges but it only receives £97,000 in income. Even with the extra £20,000 income from the proposed increased charges the full cost will not be covered and the Council will have to find a further £112,000.
  • Income of £35,000 from the Council’s Research Team.
  • £147,000 in savings from Corporate Services revenue by reorganisation of the transformation team which plays a vital role in driving efficiencies and reducing costs to the Council as a whole.
  • The £150k grant that is currently provided to Voluntary Sector Infrastructure organisations will be reduced by £30,000 following close work with the sector and the organisations affected. Following a review, we will work with them in a more targeted way to align their work across the whole range of the Council’s functions, supporting the delivery of the Building Resilient Communities Strategy.

Sue Grace, Executive Director for Customer Services and Transformation said: “We are in very difficult times and we are doing all we can to help protect frontline services. Our communities rightly expect us to answer the phone or help them access our services. Equally when there is an emergency, such as the recent flooding, they need the Council to be able to react and protect them. Measures, such as sharing a Chief Executive, saves the Council at least £100,000 a year. In an ideal world we would not increase costs for items such as Blue Badges but even with these proposals the Council’s costs are still higher than the income we receive. We are looking at how we work and are financed to see through re-organisation if extra savings and efficiencies can be achieved. We will be working with members to look at these proposals and reduce the impact where we can on the communities we serve.”