Council bosses told to cut spending

By Ian Dipple Wednesday 21 November 2012 Updated: 24/11 00:02

COUNCIL bosses are being told to cut spending in areas which do not hit frontline services as the authority looks to plug a £48,000 gap in its finances.

The poor economic climate means Redditch Borough Council has seen its income in many areas fall while spending on benefits has risen as more people seek help. Although some departments are expected to fall below their allocated budget, it will still leave the predicted gap.

As a result managers are being told to review spending and crackdown on waste to eliminate the deficit by the end of the current financial year. If the gap cannot be filled the council will be forced to dip into its savings.

But with further savings having to be made next year as a result of government cuts in council funding, Jayne Pickering, the council's executive director of finance and corporate resources, indicated they did not want to be in a position where they were already playing catch-up.

"Heads of service are looking at any waste in their system and what they can stop doing, without impacting on the service, and how they can change that £48,000 to zero," she told an executive committee meeting on Tuesday (November 20).

"What we don't want is to start with a shortfall even before we get to the budget."

Issues include a drop in income from parking fines of £35,000 and as a result Wychavon District Council, which provides the service for Redditch, is being asked to review its staffing requirements.

The Learn Direct service, leftover from the decision to close the REDI Centre, is expected to lose £20,000 partly due to a fall in user numbers. The temporary closure of Redditch Crematorium, so work could take place to allow waste heat to be transferred to the revamped Abbey Stadium, has also cost £14,000 in lost income.

Some managers have also seen their pay rise for taking on extra responsibility as a result of the shared services scheme with neighbouring Bromsgrove District Council, costing another £31,000.

The recession is also expected to lead to a £75,000 rise in spending on housing related benefits while council run business centres are set to lose £48,000 in rent.

"We need to have a look at where we are with those properties and either get people in or look at what else we can do with them," Ms Pickering added.

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