A public consultation to help a council make savings of £8.7million has launched this week.
Bedford Borough Council says it facing “major financial pressures” due to factors including a significant reduction in government funding, inflation and demand for service, and is therefore required to deliver £36million of savings over four years.
Last year Bedford Borough Council agreed savings of £23million over a four-year period.
The council says that proposals this year again focus on new ways of doing business that enable the council to continue to provide high performing services.
Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson, said: “By being open and transparent with local residents we planned savings of £23million over four years in last year’s budget proposals.
“However, like all other local authorities we are still facing tough decisions as we tackle an unprecedented funding gap of £36million.
“We are continuing with our strategic four-year view, and again this year we are among the first local authorities in the country to publish our proposals, which prioritise protecting front-line services and focus savings on back office costs.
“We are maintaining an early, open approach to consultation in order to give residents a real opportunity to have their say on where and how the savings are made.”
With just five per cent of the savings coming from changes in services, this year’s proposals continue the emphasis towards achieving back office savings, improved procurement, generating more income and reducing the costs of buying in goods and services the council receives from elsewhere.
The proposals were approved by the council’s Executive Committee on September 12.
The council is now carrying out a consultation with local residents as part of You Choose 2013.
Groups directly affected will be engaged in discussions with the council about the proposals.
Councillor Michael Headley, portfolio holder for finance, added: “The proposals identified this year total in excess of £8.7 million of savings across all service areas with a continued focus on cutting inflation, back office and bureaucracy costs.
“For example, the proposals save £10,000 per year on postage costs alone and over £160,000 on telephone costs.
“This covers the running costs of Putnoe, Wootton and Bromham libraries for a year.
“The 2013-14 financial year carries even more challenges for local authorities with changes to business rates and council tax support.
“It is therefore absolutely vital that we robustly investigate all opportunities and options to minimise the impact on local residents and businesses across the borough.”
You Choose 2013 consultation closes on the November 19. All responses will be considered at the council executive on December 5.
You can respond to the consultation at www.bedford.gov.uk/budget2013
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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