£9m savings plans get initial approval

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TOWN hall chiefs in Rotherham have initially approved over £9m of savings in a budget the council says aims to protect front-line services.

‘Staff savings’ of £2m are also proposed and council tax will be frozen for town households under the proposals for 2012-13 agreed yesterday.

Reports to Rotherham Council’s cabinet outline £9.768m of savings across children and young people’s services, neighbourhoods and adult services plus resources in environment and development services.

This is in addition to ‘streamlining’ management, administration and ‘back office costs’ after cuts in central Government funding left the council facing a £30.3m resources gap in 2011-12.

The report, which puts forward a budget totalling £213,290 for the next year, added: “However, faced with such a significant budget deficit, the council still has to make some tough choices.

“By adopting a calm and measured approach and planned ahead it is possible for the council to protect the services most in need.”

Priorities outlined in the budget include safeguarding children, vulnerable people, promoting new business start-ups and investing in infastructure like houses, schools and roads.

Money will also be made from ‘staff savings’ of £2m after a review of services, by not paying staff increments for a second year and by reinstating a 1.15 pay reduction which affects councillors’ allowances.

Council partnerships and contracts are being reviewed to save £2.2m.

Rotherham Council leader Coun Roger Stone said: “Our aim all along has been to protect services, not council structures, which is in line with what the people of Rotherham themselves have told us.”

An estimated £2.325m Government grant will be given to the authority for freezing council tax for a third year so Band A properties would pay £820.02 annually.

There is also £2.3m surplus expected on the council tax collection fund by March.

There is about £6m in council reserves available.

Full council will consider the budget for final approval on March 7.