The County Council is facing unprecedented challenge. The impact of the national debt, combined with the twin pressures of increased demand for our services and inflation, means we have a target of saving £160.6 million over the next five years. That is why I want to talk to you about how we are going to meet this challenge. There is no doubt that to meet these tough challenges we are going to have to transform the way we work. This is at the heart of this year’s budget process, now open to consultation. We will become a slimmer, even more efficient Council; one which puts communities at the heart of creating and delivering services, and prioritises help for the most vulnerable people in our communities.
We want to be a genuinely local Council, handing power for decision making, budgets and service provision to the most local possible level. These changes will have big implications for the way we work, and we estimate that over the next year up to 450 people will be affected as the Council transforms. This figure is likely to increase over the next two to three years. Redundancies are an inevitable consequence of the challenge we face, but we will do all we can to mitigate the impacts. Of course, not all of the reductions will result in redundancy. We’ve been freezing posts as they have become vacant and some staff will retire or move to a job elsewhere.