BCP council is set to establish a voluntary redundancy scheme for its staff in ‘urgent’ efforts to plug a funding gap of £12m.

BCP Council published the latest report on its finances on Friday, detailing the steps it is taking to deliver a balanced budget for 2024/25.

The authority says it has made ‘good progress’ in reducing the budget gap from £44m to £12m, however, it needs to 'urgently work' to close the deficit.  

BCP Council Leader Vikki Slade said this will involve looking at “what core services we can afford to continue to provide and what we may need to change, do differently and in some cases stop.”

Some of these savings have come from the council’s transformation programme which has been working to redesign services to make them more efficient, and in turn, more cost-effective.

Another element being looked at is the workforce, and it has been recommended that a voluntary redundancy process is established.

According to the budget report, it is “likely that this scheme will not be applied to certain elements of the workforce such as social workers but will focus on areas of the council where future savings are forecast or can be made”.

Residents will be asked to have their say on future council savings via public engagement this November and December.

Cllr Slade said: “Our absolute priority is to deliver services that best meet the needs of our residents while enabling us to financially live within our means.

“We are facing the same difficult financial pressures as all other local authorities. We are taking steps to avoid serious government intervention that has already happened in other councils.

“Over the last few months, we have made really good progress in reducing that budget gap from £44M to £12M, but we know there is still work to do.

“We cannot afford to live beyond our means and we need to look at what core services we can afford to continue to provide and what we may need to change, do differently and in some cases stop.

“But we will be open and honest about those decisions, and work with you to understand the impact. We welcome your feedback and challenge through our engagement process.”

Following the report, Councillor Philip Broadhead has hit out at the new Lib Dem-led administration,

He said: “In February of this year, the outgoing Conservative administration outlined that the budget gap for 2024/25, after transformation and efficiency savings, was around £14m.

"As would be normal, this was before any further in-year savings had been identified by the council to finally balance the budget and eliminate the £14m gap.   

"Rather than accept those figures, which had been put together by council officers, the new Lib Dem-led coalition chose to scaremonger and announce a £44m budget gap whilst they 'validated those plans'.

"Now that validation process has concluded, we discover that those earlier figures were correct all along, with a budget gap now forecast at £12m.

"This has resulted in wasted time, effort and damaging savings plans - such as scrapping the air festival and Christmas lights, which can now be reversed.

"Moving forward, we urge the new Lib Dem-led administration to drop the political soundbites, stop scaring residents with huge budget gaps that don’t exist, and work collaboratively to deliver for residents, rather than play politics with the council’s finances."