Preston Council is considering its funding options for the 2013-14 tax year.
A recommendation is that front line public services will be protected in the budget. Savings of £996,000 will be needed and it is proposed these will be found by streamlining and restructuring back office services and deleting vacant posts.
Central government cuts that have seen funding slashed by a third have made it hard for the council to decide where savings can be made. There are painful and difficult decisions ahead.
Councillor Martyn Rawlinson outlined the funding problems:
“Protecting vitally important public services that we all rely on is key to our budget proposals. For 2013/14 we’ve done this by cutting back on items like ICT equipment and insurances as well as restructuring council departments to save money.
“This will result in losing four and a half jobs but we will look to accommodate this through deleting vacant posts and voluntary redundancy where possible.
“We’ve had to put up some fees and charges to raise more income, but our prices remain competitive – either in line or cheaper than the amounts neighbouring councils charge.
“A 2% council tax rise is also proposed but this works out at just £5 a year extra for the average council tax payer in Preston – that’s less than 10p per week.
“Looking further ahead the financial position is less certain. Preston has taken a massive hit in Government cuts – being one of the worst hardest hit councils in the whole country. It means that between 2010 and 2015 Preston’s budget will have been cut by a third from £30m to £20m. We are going to have to make some very difficult decisions, but at least we do have some time to consider all the options and decide on the best way forward for Preston.”
The Cabinet is meeting again 6 February to further consider the proposal with a final decision made at a full Council meeting 28 February. We will report on the outcome and comment on Preston Councils budget and policy proposals for 2013-14 in a later post.