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North Yorkshire County Council predicts more cuts and savings
More cuts and savings up until 2020 have been predicted by the leader of North Yorkshire County Council.
Councillor John Weighell (Cons) told a joint budget meeting that the council had to make £93 million savings over the next four years.
He said it was currently on track to save £52 million from last year and this, and had £17 million planned savings in place for the next two years.
However it would need to find an additional £24 million in 2015/17.
On top of that, he said the council was already two years into seven years of austerity, but he predicted that would stretch to nine.
He said: “We have been promised seven years of austerity, but we suspect that will be more like nine years.
“We’ve had two years already and we still expect an increasing demand for our services.”
Coun Weighell told Thursday’s meeting, held jointly with Craven District Council and the newly- appointed police and crime commissioner Julia Mull-igan, that there would be increasing pressures on all its frontline services, such as planning, highways and education.
He was almost certain that there would be a freeze on the council tax precept for the third year in a row and the council was running out of options on where to make savings.
“It is very likely we will go for a no increase again in council tax this year, which is to the advantage of the population, but to the detriment of the county council,” he said. “There will be cutbacks and savings, it’s no good me saying there won’t.”
The council, which along with all local authorities was likely to receive massive cuts to its Government grants, had so far made savings by removing discretionary spending and handing over libraries to community groups, as well as other non-frontline services.
The council currently spent the largest amount of its annual £363.4million budget on the support of adults and older people (£135.2 million), and with the number of older people in the county rising all the time, that figure would increase.
It also spent £36.9 million on children’s social care, £27.2 million on highways maintenance, and £20.9 million on home to school transport.
The effect of increasing demand on social care meant other services, such as planning, highways and education were all being squeezed.
Gary Fielding, the council’s director of finance, said the reduction in Govern-ment grants and the freezing of council tax meant that the council would have to increase its fees and charges and reduce spending.
“There is some scope to increase fees and charges, but not much,” he said. “The majority of savings have so far not come from the frontline, but that will become increasingly difficult.”