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Dudley councillors set for a Halloween budget horror show
8:30am Friday 26th October 2012 in News
COUNCILLORS are set to consider a Halloween budget horror show after revealing Dudley needs to make another £20m in cuts.
The authority's cabinet will meet on Wednesday October 31 to consider next year's budget, which outlines financial bloodletting on a scale which threatens to slash services to the bone.
The plans will be the first from the Labour administration which took control of Dudley Council in May and senior councillors, who privately admit they are horrified by the amount of savings they have to find, blame the coalition in Westminster.
Councillor Peter Lowe, Dudley cabinet member for finance, said: “These are extremely challenging times for all local authorities and, as a result of the reduced funding available from the government, there are increasingly difficult decisions to make.
“The council has already made savings of more than £30m in the past two years, but now we are having to make even more.
“I will continue to strive to make these savings in innovative ways and to protect as far as possible those vulnerable residents who need our services most.”
The proposals for 2013/14 set out proposed savings of £10.7m to be made next year, a further £4.8m the following year and £6.3m in 2015/16, a total of nearly £22m.
If the authority has to increase council tax to pay its bills, a rise of more than two per cent would have to be agreed by borough voters at a referendum which would be held during the first week of May.
An increase of under two per cent will mean the council has to find an extra £5m in savings to keep their medium term plan on track.
No council tax rise will leave finance chiefs looking for more savings of £9m.
Councillor David Sparks, leader of the council, said: “Our priority is to continue delivering the best service we can to all residents across the borough.
“Unfortunately we are in a financial straight jacket and we are having to do things that we really don’t want to do. The government’s policy on local government expenditure is forcing councils to make cuts.
“In setting out these proposals, we have looked at all spending pressures, the opportunities to free up resources and the council’s priorities.
“We are already a low-spending council, so now we are really having to dig deep to find more inventive ways to continue delivering services to residents.”
Cabinet members will also consider a report on how the voluntary redundancy programme reduced the number of compulsory redundancies required in the past two years and will be asked to approve a similar programme be in place for 2013.
In the last two years there were 487 voluntary redundancies and 74 compulsory job losses.