Radical changes to services coming as council reveals £21 million shortfall

Bedford Borough Hall
Bedford Borough Hall

Public services will have to “radically change” as the council estimates it is £21 million out of pocket.

The warning comes as Bedford Borough Council unveils a new three-year budget forecast, calculated in light of central government’s massive funding cuts.

The council has already achieved savings of £87 million since 2010 through measures which include reducing staff numbers, cutting back office costs and introducing new ways of working.

Portfolio Holder for Finance Councillor Michael Headley said: “Unfortunately, efficiency savings alone won’t get us anywhere near meeting the £21 million budget gap we have.

“It is going to be hard, and in some areas services will have to radically change.

“These decisions are being forced upon us by the onslaught of cuts in funding coming from central government.”

He added: “We hope that by working together with the community, we can find new ways of providing and protecting services that are important to residents in Bedford Borough.

“I want to be clear that our priority is to protect frontline services for residents to the greatest degree that is possible.”

The publication of the Medium Term Financial Strategy follows the announcement of the final Local Government Finance Settlement, which outlined a cut of 80 per cent of the main government grant over the four years from 2015/16 to 2019/20.

This has left Bedford Borough Council with a budget gap of £21 million by 2019/20.

The report details how the council has undertaken work to look at all areas of its budget to identify efficiencies and new ways of delivering services. It sets out the Council’s approach to make necessary savings, while protecting those people in greatest need.

For more information on council budgets and spending, visit www.bedford.gov.uk