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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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‘More than 600’ jobs may go in Cumbria County Council spend cuts

CUMBRIA County Council is braced for deeper than expected spending cuts.

Early indications from within government suggest Cumbria County Council will have to find an extra £2.8m in savings in 2015/16.

The news came on the back of the announcement of the government’s draft grant settlement for next year.

The total savings now needed in 201/-16 alone will be nearly £34m, and not £31m as previously expected.

The authority is already grappling with how to cut spending by £80m over three years.

Leaders have conceded the scale of funding reductions puts around 600 jobs at risk, and the figures released this week suggest even more might now be at risk.

Councillor Jo Stephenson, deputy leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “We have been given indications of funding for 2015/16, and we were anticipating having to make savings of £31m.

“That has now gone up by £2.8m to nearly £34m.

“As most people know, we were already planning a programme of voluntary redundancies over the next three years, and we will do everything we can to keep that figure as low as possible.’’

This week’s draft settlement shows the authority’s planning for expected funding reductions are broadly in line with what is needed. The council is currently planning for a £24m funding cut next year.

Cllr Stephenson, also the council’s cabinet member for resources, added: “This settlement confirms that the climate we’ve been working in for the last three years remains a reality for the next three.

“These are the biggest cuts to local government spending since the Second World War and confirm that by the end of 2016 we will have one pound less to spend in every four than we used to receive in 2010.’’

The council, which will agree its budget in February, is consulting on 35 savings proposals, which can be seen at www.cumbria.gov.uk/ourfuture.

A spokesman said the latest figures confirm the authority is entering “unchartered territory” in terms of the savings needed.

The settlement included some “positive news”, he said, as it included support for services in sparse areas and a “new homes bonus,” so the grant reduction was £939,000 less than predicted.

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