Cuts will hit frontline services - but council tax to be pegged (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Cuts will hit frontline services - but council tax to be pegged
A SERIES of wide ranging cuts are on the way for North Yorkshire as the county authority seeks to freeze its council tax for the third year in a row.
The county council will meet next week to discuss a package of measures as members work to balance their budget for the next financial year.
By pegging the council tax the authority will attract a Government grant equivalent to a one per cent rise – which will amount to £2.2m.
But the local government funding settlement has also left them needing to find additional savings of about £23m over the next two years - on top of the £69m savings programme the authority is already implementing.
Since learning of the need for additional spending cuts in August, the council has identified about £18m of savings.
These would come from further back office and administrative efficiencies, further reductions in staff numbers and further reviews of services and how the council procures services.
Work to identify the remaining £5m of savings is continuing and areas to be considered include charges for services, examining criteria relating to standards of service and working to reduce demand for health-related services.
But the authority freely admits the need to find savings on such a scale will “undoubtedly” have an impact on frontline services.
Council leader John Weighell said: “Rural councils have fared worse than urban councils in the local government funding settlement.
“Councillors and local MPs have lobbied the Government, which has indicated it understands there is an issue and is looking at the matter.
“There is some cause for optimism that this may result in a reduction in the level of savings needed, perhaps by £1m or £2m.”
Other elements of the savings package include:
• Reduction in the budget for concessionary fares and a review of concessionary fares reimbursement to bus operators;
• Refocusing of the trading standards service;
• A reduction in public rights of way maintenance;
• Additional income targets for libraries, registrars and archives services, a reduction in spending on library stock and further use of digitised services;
• Decommissioning of some children’s centre buildings;
• Reduced spending on youth activities;
• Review of some children’s social care services.
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