Deficit falls to less than £10 million

Knutsford Guardian: Clr Michael Jones Clr Michael Jones

CHESHIRE East Council’s leader has pledged to protect public services after it was announced the funding deficit has been reduced to just under £10 million.

Clr Michael Jones and his cabinet are looking at major reductions in unnecessary costs in a bid to eventually balance the authority’s books.

He said: “We have left no stone unturned.

“Savings must be driven by improving the way the council organises itself and by improving its productivity.

“We have detailed plans over the next few years to reduce our management overheads, cut out waste and unnecessary bureaucracy and rethink the way we do things.”

Initiatives include unlocking grants such as the New Homes Bonus, a Government scheme to encourage building new houses, and the ‘Freeze Grant’ to keep council tax frozen for band D properties.

Some of the money originally earmarked for the council’s reserves pot will also be added to the main budget.

A struggle for funds is anticipated over the next five years as Government help is being cut back, yet the borough’s increasing population and rising costs for services are putting more pressure on the council.

Clr Jones added: “We know that Government funding in future years will be much less as we reduce the UK’s public deficit.

“But we are responding well in the council to this unprecedented challenge.

“We know there will be increasing pressures also on our limited resources as we go on caring for the growing number of elderly people, from safeguarding vulnerable children and adults, from welfare reform and for changes in education as more local schools seek to become academies.

“Over Christmas, my Cabinet and I will continue our tireless work to have a plan in place to balance our books and to create an effective council that is sustainable in the future.

“This will include using fewer buildings to reduce costs and slimming down our management structures to protect essential frontline jobs.

“Our sound financial management means we will be able to make major investment in new roads and other infrastructure to grow our local economy, to create new jobs and bring greater prosperity for residents.

“You have my complete commitment to continue these improvements and to give a fair deal to the people of Cheshire East.”

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