Home   Newmarket   News   Article

Suffolk County Council asks for feedback as it looks to cut £25m from budget

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich.
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich.

A county council is set to slash millions from its budget next year and is now asking for feedback on which services should be saved.

Suffolk County Council launched its annual budget consultation on Tuesday as accountants try to cut £25 million off next year's spending plans.

Like other local authorities in England, the county council has faced significant financial challenges as central government has withdrawn grants.

Since 2011 the council has cut £260 million out of its budget and now wants to know what services residents value most as budget pressures continue to force the council to reduce services.

Cllr Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets, said: "We need to save around £25 million in 2019/20 as we have continued reductions in central government grants and from other income sources too.

"In setting the budget, we have to take into account our statutory obligations, as well as the service areas that people value most, including spending on roads.

"There is no easy solution. We have tough calls to make, and I welcome views about how we should go about making our decisions."

Earlier in the year, council accountants predicted an overspend of £8.6 million by the end of the financial year.

Reacting to news about the Suffolk's having to cut £25 million from its budget, Labour group leader Sarah Adams said: “The Tories are now finally realising that the cuts this council have imposed on the county, and the services they have withdrawn, have had a devastating effect on Suffolk. The economically illiterate decisions made by this council in the last five years are now coming home to roost.

“It is noticeable that of the 10 councils most at risk from bankruptcy nine of them are Conservative-run. Labour councils invest money to create income in order to protect services, whereas Conservatives ensure service reduction by salami slicing until there is nothing left.

“Given that Councillor Smith acknowledges that ministers do not want to hear the harsh realities of local government delivery it is time he stopped his cosy back room chats with central government ministers – this approach has failed – and join us in publicly calling for the end of austerity.

Dwindling budgets have also impacted Suffolk's neighbouring authority.

At Cambridgeshire County Council 1,800 staff are being forced to take three days unpaid leave between Christmas and New Year as that authority struggles to balance the books.