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South Somerset District Council Outlines Plans to Deal with the Cuts

Tuesday 26 October 2010, 11:57
By Dawn Haydon

South Somerset District Council is committed to retaining frontline services valued by its residents, wherever possible.

South Somerset District Council has been expecting cuts and has therefore been planning ahead. South Somerset has taken a prudent approach to setting its Medium Term Financial Plan, and has already factored in an assumed 30% cut to its budget over the next four years.

South Somerset District Council is expecting more detail in November or December when the provisional government grant figures are issued.

The 28.4 per cent cut to local government funding announced as part of today's Government Spending Review has been described as 'disappointing but not different to what has already been worked into forward finance plans', by South Somerset District Council.

Cllr Tim Carroll, SSDC Leader"South Somerset has always taken a prudent approach to financial planning and so we had already factored in an assumed 30% cut to our budget over the next four years", said Leader, Cllr Tim Carroll. "In effect, our predictions have been very close to the announced financial reductions and today's announcements have not come as a total and unexpected shock. However it is true to say that there will be impacts that we will all feel. South Somerset is firmly committed to retaining frontline services wherever possible and this significant and ongoing reduction in funding will have real and indisputable effects on the extent of our services. In short, we have worked this level of cuts into our forward plan but it will be a case of looking very carefully each year for the next four years at where we can find these levels of savings. The devil will obviously be in the detail and we will now need to spend several days analysing how today's announcements will affect our budget and our services. These savings should primarily come from efficiencies and partnership working such as our work with East Devon District Council. South Somerset already has an enviable record in achieving efficiencies and has achieved £3.7m in savings since early 2008 by embracing smarter procurement, business process re-engineering, better use of its assets and entering partnerships for waste collection and audit. We already have ongoing dialogue with the unions over future staffing and expenditure.

"The most important thing is that we do all we can to retain services that the public have told us they value, wherever we can."

Donna Parham, the district council's Section 151 Officer and Assistant Director for Financial and Corporate Services explained, "It will take time to fully analyse the impact of the changes announced today, and there may be further considerations when the Government announce how much specific Government grant we will receive in November or December."

Dawn Haydon adds:

South Somerset District Council has already filtered in an assumed 30% cut to its £20.3m budget over the next four years. Lean thinking, better use of buildings and assets, sharing services with East Devon, procurement projects and a target for all managers to find four per cent efficiency savings within their services has led to the council already finding £1.6m savings towards this year's budget shortfall.

The shortfall predicted for this year is in the region of £2.5m but this could be greater or smaller depending on the impact of the spending review and the November Revenue Support Grant announcement. South Somerset is now sharing a Chief Executive with East Devon District Council and councillors from both authorities are due to consider a proposed joint senior management structure in December which would lead to further ongoing savings.

For comment contact:

Cllr Tim Carroll, Leader
07909 886087

Issued by:

Dawn Haydon
Media and Communications Officer
South Somerset District Council
Brympton Way
Yeovil BA20 2HT
Tel 01935 462130

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