ECC Sets £300 Million Savings Target

(BBC) – ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL has set a target of cutting budget expenditure by £300 million by 2012.

This is a third of the council’s income. Tory leader Lord Hanningfield has pledged no service cuts and no above-inflation council tax rises.

The council is streamlining operations by cutting duplication and eliminating unnecessary processes, he said.

But the Liberal Democrats are concerned over effects on jobs and want more information on the impact of the cuts.

Lord Hanningfield said: ‘Raising our savings target to £300m shows our commitment to delivering value for money for Essex residents.

‘This figure is a very tangible commitment to our residents that will mean no council tax increases above inflation for four years, no cuts in front-line services, despite the worst operating environment for 60 years, and extra investment in those services crucial to assisting Essex through this present recession.’

Sarah Candy, cabinet member for finance and change management, said: ‘We are only halfway through the financial year, and we have already delivered £40m towards this target.

‘We are beating our targets and upping our game further, which is why we have set this new target that will direct £300m from the back office into front-line services by 2012.’

David Kendall, Lib Dem economics spokesman on the council, said: ‘A number of services are to be privatised under the transformation changes and we are concerned about the jobs of staff who have done an excellent job over the years.

‘We do not have all the information needed to make a judgement on the changes, although we were promised this so that a detailed analysis could be made.

‘We set an amendment that the decision should be deferred until the December meeting when more information from the review that is going on would be available.

‘However, this was outvoted by the Conservative group.’

Essex County Council has 75 members with the Conservatives holding 60 seats and the Lib Dems 12, Labour one and Independents two.