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Council scrutiny panels to review in-year budget savings proposals

Date Published: 28 April 2021
Rutland County Council

Rutland County Council’s Scrutiny Committees are meeting tonight and tomorrow to review proposals for in-year budget savings aimed at reducing council spending over the course of the current financial year.

When Rutland County Council set its latest annual budget in February of this year, it voted to cap a rise in Council Tax to 2.99% (rather than applying the maximum 5% increase allowed by government). It also voted to use £2.4million of council reserves to close the large funding gap created by further reductions in Government funding for local councils.

As part of this decision, it was agreed that Rutland County Council would need to improve its financial position by finding further in-year savings through a review of all spending, as well as freezing vacant staff posts, where possible.

Reports being presented to the Council’s Scrutiny Committees at 7.00pm on Wednesday 28 April and 7.00pm on Thursday 29 April set out where the Council hopes to make savings without having an adverse impact on core services for residents.

“As part of the measures agreed in our latest annual budget, the Council needs to identify options to reduce its overall costs – both in the short term and long term. The options being reviewed by Scrutiny this week are an initial set of ideas. These have been generated through a line-by-line review of budgets, taking into consideration work done and ideas generated by Councillors, public feedback on the annual budget, staff suggestions and initiatives taken by other Councils. The aim is to find savings and protect our core services while we carry out further financial planning and analysis. While these initial savings will help, there is much more we need to do. We still need to find further savings of at least £2million if the Government doesn’t provide Rutland with the additional funding we’re fighting for. It’s clear from the work we’ve done that to deliver savings of this magnitude will need significant changes to the way the Council works and the services it offers. As we do this we’ll be turning to residents for their input. For example, the Council will soon be consulting on its waste management strategy where it has already set an objective to try and reduce costs by 10%, nearly £400k.” Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council

Possible savings put forward as part of the report to be reviewed by Scrutiny Committees cover three main areas:

1.    Administrative savings: Reducing overheads by changing working practises to create a saving of £185k

2.    Revised Council offer: A revision to the Council’s Offer to the public or staff, creating a saving of £422k

3.    Change in Funding Assumptions: No change to the Council’s offer but proposed changes to how the Offer is funded to create a saving of £604k

Where the council is considering revising its current offer, care has been taken to identify savings that will result in minimal impact for service users. Examples include: 

  • Changes to the way that children’s centre services are commissioned
  • Adapting the Council’s mobile library service by switching to home deliveries on request
  • Running the Oakham Hopper bus as a free service provided by Council vehicles, rather than a commercial transport operator

Where the Council is having to consider withdrawing financial support, such as ceasing funding for arts development, it would look to support those impacted to find other sources of funding.

Once reviewed by Scrutiny Committees, the report (Budget Savings 2021/22) is due to be presented to Rutland County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 18 May. If approved by Cabinet, a final decision on the proposals will then be taken by Full Council.

The full agenda and reports for Scrutiny Committees taking place on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 April can be read online at: www.rutland.gov.uk/meetings, where you can also find details of how to watch the meetings online.

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