By Connie Osborne Thursday 18 October 2012 Updated: 19/10 10:06
MORE job losses and an extra £10million in cuts to county council services are expected as part of a new plan to save money.
Worcestershire County Council say the measures are needed because of further expected cuts in funding from the Government, due to be announced in the Chancellor's Autumn statement in December.
Originally it was estimated the council would have to trim £70million from its budget by 2015/16, which increased to £90million and now could rise as high as £100million.
Over the next four years the council is also facing a budget gap of £23million, with a blackhole totalling £17.7million forecast for 2016/17, before any additional government cuts.
But council chiefs insist through their BOLD (Better Outcomes, Lean Delivery) programme, which aims to streamline services,
they can limit the impact on frontline services.
In the last 18 months the scheme has already saved £41million, with another £10million anticipated in the next six months.
It was estimated 857 jobs would disappear over the period, with 300 already axed, but chief executive Trish Haines admitted the figure was likely to rise through to 2016.
She said as more services would be shared in future, it was likely jobs would be lost as staff took on extra responsibilities and shared roles. But she stressed the public's needs would not be forgotten.
"We will do everything we can to try and meet people's needs. Albeit, these needs may be met in different ways in the future.”
Areas being looked at for savings include the highways budget, where £1.5million is set to be slashed by 2015/16.
But the council insist it will not mean cuts to the maintenance budget and can be done by negotiating a cheaper deal with contractors due in April 2014.
Council leader Adrian Hardman added: "Highways is always at the top of people’s agenda. There contact with the council is often 'can I travel to work without hitting a hole in the road?' We know it’s always a key issue."
Another £750,000 is earmarked to come out of public transport which could mean further reductions to bus services.
But council chiefs claim they will try and limit the impact by looking at other areas of the community transport budget, such as helping disabled people learn how to use buses independently and working with bus contractors to improve wheelchair and pushchair access, reducing costs spent on specialist transport services.
Coun Hardman added the council was also looking at pilot bus schemes with high schools, aiming to improve travel for schoolchildren, after complaints about the standard of the current service.
He also praised the BOLD scheme and claimed it had worked well in saving money so far, and pledged it would not impact on the quality of services.
"The only way we can continue to do this is to provide services in different ways, but people will still get their needs met. You will still get your needs met and be looked after."
Charlie Sarell, UNISON regional organiser for the West Midlands, said the news was very worrying.
"UNISON does not believe that the level of services can continue to be provided by the county council without these jobs and the provision of them."
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