Council bosses urge public to shape future budget cuts

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RESIDENTS and businesses across York are being asked to help shape the council’s spending priorities after it emerged the local authority will have to find savings of £22m over the next two years.

York Council is launching its 2012-14 budget setting process with a public drop-in session at the Mansion House on Tuesday, when for the first time residents will be able to discuss the council’s budget priorities with cabinet members and senior officers face-to-face.

A special budget event will also be held in January for representatives from York’s business community. The latest forecasts show the council will need to find savings of £12m in 2012/13 and £10m in 2013/14 – a total of £22m – in addition to the £21m of savings agreed in February for 2011/12.

This week, cabinet members agreed to cut three assistant director posts from the current 16, in a bid to save £250,000 a year, following on from a major restructuring in July 2010, when the number of assistant directors at the council were slashed from 21.

The cabinet member for corporate services, Coun Julie Gunnell, said: “It’s vitally important that local people have the opportunity to tell us how they would like us to spend their money, particularly given the difficult financial situation the council is facing.

”We are in the second year of a four-year Government funding allocation, which will see a reduction in local government spending by over 28 per cent, and is nationally recognised as the most challenging budget round of a generation.

“We are working hard to deliver £22m of savings over the next two years, but like many other local authorities across the country, we’re also experiencing unavoidable pressures, such as an ageing population, increasing numbers of children under the council’s care and increasing fuel prices. With the current Government funding system as it is, it will not be possible to maintain all current services.”

The council has also launched a new online budget evaluation tool, providing a breakdown of where funding is spent at the moment and allowing residents to create their own budgets.

The survey is available online at www.youchoose.yougov.com/York.

Tuesday’s event takes place at 6.30pm.