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Council to axe finance director as part of bid to plug £35m budget shortfall

Staffordshire County Council is to cut its own senior leadership team as the authority tries to tackle a £35m funding gap in its budget.

The number of directors on its leadership team will be cut from five to four with Andy Burns, the current director of finance and resources and the former president of CIPFA, set to lose his job at the county council.

John Tradewell’s role as director of strategy, governance and change will also be removed, but following a review and subject to a full council decision in December, Tradewell will be appointed to the new role of director of corporate services.

The authority says this a cost cutting measure to meet unprecedented financial pressures as it faces a £35m shortfall in its budget next year, and is also proposing a 2.95% tax hike and having several libraries taken over by volunteers.

Burns, who oversees the council’s £1.2bn revenue budget and funds for investments, the pension fund and building programmes, reportedly earns just under £150,000, according to local press.

Staffordshire council’s leader Philip Atkins said that despite reducing running costs by £240m in the last nine years, “we face extremely difficult decisions to meet our legal duty to balance the books next year.”

“To protect front line and universal services, we are making significant savings in the back office, and subject to approval by full council in December, that will start with our senior leadership team.”

“Work is underway on a range of cost saving proposals and together with councils across the country, we continue to lobby the government on the urgent need for more funding for adult and children’s social are.”

An action plan was agreed for the council last September, which includes controls on all non-essential spending, a review of all school crossing patrols, and only offering concessionary travel post-9:30am.

Mike Sutherland, cabinet member for finance, said at the time: “We are facing some very difficult decisions around areas such as school crossing patrols and, in areas where we can no longer offer funding, we plan to work closely with communities to help them find local solutions where possible.”

The council says its cost of care has risen by £100m in the last 10 years, and that it awaits the government’s announcement for the funding settlement for councils on 6 December.

Image - Staffordshire County Council

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