County council leaders say they must plan for a ‘worst case scenario’ and slash a further £90 million from the budget.
East Sussex County Council is facing ‘tough decisions’ and, in a report put to the authority’s finances cabinet, must make savings of between £70 million and £90 million in the three years from 2016.
In recent years, the authority has made cuts to save £89 million between 2010 and March 2016.
But at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, members were warned that an expected continued reduction in central Government funding could leave them needing to find that amount again to balance the books between 2016 and 2019.
“Due to next year’s general election, there are many unknowns for local authorities,” said Cllr David Elkin, deputy leader and lead member for resources. “As we start planning future budgets, we need to prepare for the worst case scenario.”
The authority has already drawn up a budget plan for the next financial year, 2015/16, but needs to identify possible savings for the three years from 2016.
“As with every local authority, we will have to make some tough decisions to achieve any additional savings over the next few years,” Cllr Elkin added. “There is every possibility that residents will see major changes to the way the county council provides service as a result.”
As it prepares to consider further savings, the cabinet renewed its commitment to four priorities: driving economic growth; keeping vulnerable people safe; helping people help themselves; making best use of the council’s resources.
Cllr Elkin said, “As with all the changes we have made so far, we will continue to work with residents and organisations to ensure that no one is left without access to a service that they rely upon, although it would be naïve to assume that there will be no change to services. Our approach is, and will continue to be, to look at what services we need to deliver and work with residents and partners to deliver these to the highest standard with the money available.”