COUNCIL chiefs have warned even tougher times could lie ahead as they backed a further £10.9million of cuts at a meeting this morning.
Members of Dorset County Council’s cabinet supported a budget to go before full council next week that includes £10.9m of new savings on top of £5.6m of ongoing savings and £3m from central budgets.
Despite the cuts to services, Dorset residents at least appear set to enjoy a freeze in the county council’s share of the council tax for a third year running.
Areas identified for savings in the coming year include public transport, museum grants and road safety funding.
Chief financial officer Paul Kent warned councillors that, having identified the bulk of savings for the 2013/14 financial year, the authority’s attention must now turn to how it can trim its budget in future years.
The council currently expects to have to find estimated savings of £13.5m in 2014/15 and £13.2m the following year.
Mr Kent said: “Our priority must be to focus on services required in future years to ensure we can provide the most cost effective services for the people of Dorset with the resources available to us.”
Cabinet member for corporate resources Spencer Flower added: “We have got challenges beyond this year coming up that are probably even greater than the ones we have had.
“It is going to be more challenging as this process goes along.”
Council leader Angus Campbell said the way the authority approached its budgets had changed ‘fundamentally’ and warned the period of austerity could continue for some time to come.
He said: “Well into the next national administration there are going to be austerity issues and we can’t see them and we can’t see the scale of them.”
Coun Campbell also praised the efforts of Dorset County Council staff for their efforts in continuing to ensure services were delivered despite fewer resources.
He said: “There is an awful lot of work being done by far fewer people.”
The budget will now be presented to a full meeting of the council on Thursday next week.