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Council facing bigger cuts than expected

Fenland District Council is facing even bigger cuts than originally anticipated as a result of the measures announced by the Government just before Christmas.

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It estimates that it must now find an extra £934,000 in savings between now and 2020.

The revised calculations are included in the latest two documents published today (Monday, January 4) as part of the council's Comprehensive Spending Review.

They contain details of all the feedback provided by the council's 39 Members on possible ways to make the big savings needed over the next three or four years.

They list all the options outlined in the initial public consultation carried out in the autumn and show how many votes each one received from councillors.

They also specify the anticipated savings from each proposal or the extra income that could be generated. In cases where more detailed analysis is still required, they give an indication of the level of savings (low, medium or high) that could be achieved, with "low" being less than £25,000 and "high" being more than £75,000.

A separate section lists comments made by councillors in their feedback; for ease of reference, these are broken down into clear themes.

The financial settlement for local authorities announced by the Government on December 17 means that the total savings the council must find over the next four years is now £2.212 million.

So far £968,000 of savings for 2016/17 have been identified and are being delivered. That leaves a further £554,000 needed for 2017/18, £1.140 million for 2018/19 and £518,000 for 2019/20.

All the feedback and the revised estimates will be considered at an all-Member workshop on January 14, when councillors will be asked to confirm which specific proposals they want officers to work up into full business cases over the coming months.

Once those full business cases have been produced and circulated to councillors, decisions will be made on which savings to implement.

All service areas are still being considered and no firm decisions have yet been made.

Council leader Cllr John Clark said: "The extra savings we now need to find mean that we are facing an even bigger challenge than we first thought. We have made a good start and will take a fresh look at all the options at our meeting on January 14.

"The decisions we are going to have to take are the most difficult and complex I have known in my nine years as a councillor. They will inevitably require compromises on all sides. But we have no alternative."

The public are being consulted at each stage of the process. An initial survey, held in September and October last year, attracted more than 6,360 responses.

The second stage, launched today, is a four-week consultation on the council's draft Business Plan and Budget, which sets out its overall priorities for the next three years. A third consultation will follow later this year when the detailed savings proposals are published.

Council staff will also be consulted before any changes to service delivery or staffing structures are implemented.

Article added January 4, 2016