Dudley to save £25m from its budget, but over 100 jobs at risk

Dudley Council has announced a projection of £25m savings from its budget over the next three years, potentially impacting up to 170 FTE jobs.

The council revealed the drastic medium-term measures in response to the £76m reduction in government funding since 2010, forecast to increase to over £92m by 2019-20. The proposals are set to go before the council’s cabinet on 10 November, followed by a consultation with the public.

Changes include a major overhaul of preventative health services, ICT management and a 3.99% increase in council tax, including a 2% precept in adult social care. While this is expected to be offset by a growth of income from business rates to £1.3m starting next year, the council forecasts that there will still be a deficit of £9m by 2020 if additional savings are not found.

Cllr Pete Lowe, leader of Dudley Council, said: “These are difficult times we continue to find ourselves in and we have had to look at how we deliver services to make them leaner and more efficient than ever before.

“Many of the savings in the budget report are based on transforming the way we do business to try to protect jobs and essential front line services wherever possible. We are accelerating this work to make sure we continue to be an efficient authority, delivering services to the people of this borough.”

The council’s shake-up of health services with its Clinical Commissioning Group and the Carers Alliance will see an increased focus on patients with or at risk from long-term health conditions. There will also be the introduction of a ‘Carers One Stop Shop’ which will provide support and advice for community carers in the borough, particularly for young carers under the age of 18 and those supporting the elderly. It is hoped that these changes will save £6.3m by 2019-20.

The local authority hopes to save £1m from a digital transformation agenda intended to make citizens’ interaction with the council more efficient with better equipment and a transition from paper-based to internet-based systems. A review of office space and disposal of surplus land has also saved £180,000 in its first stage.

“Like most other councils Dudley is battling to balance the books and maintain its services at the same time,” said Cllr David Sparks, cabinet member for finance.

“The reductions in funding really have gone down to the bones of this authority making it very difficult to deliver these services which has meant many of our services have suffered. This is not what we want and not what people expect. But we have delivered a balanced budget that delivers services despite these cuts.”

Dudley Council stated that it had tried to minimise compulsory redundancies since 2010. But over the last six years there have been 1,147 voluntary redundancies, equating to 811 FTE jobs, and 129 compulsory redundancies (equivalent to 98 full-time posts).

Recently, a host of other local authorities, including Wolverhampton, Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon, revealed severe budget cuts, including plans to cut thousands of jobs.

(Image: c. Oosoom)

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