BCP Council has “scrubbed every area” of the council to find savings to deliver a balanced budget for 2024/25. 

Council cabinet members slammed the government over its funding for authorities adding the £600m announced last month for all councils equated to just £3.68m for BCP. 

Cllr Mike Cox, cabinet member for finance, warned if the government “continues to underfund” special educational needs services, the finances for all councils including BCP “will collapse”. 

He told a cabinet meeting on February 7 that schools and councils “cannot be made to bear the brunt of the government’s failure to fund [SEND] services”. 

The budget which will come into effect in April has a wave of service cutbacks, including grass cutting, library opening hours and to paddling pools. 

Cllr Cox said: “This budget carries significant risks, not least delivering projected savings, clearing up the mess of FuturePlaces, dealing with liquidation of Carters Quay amongst other things.” 

However, he said there are services which the council sees as a “priority” that will see extra money, including £1m added back to children’s services, £400k to housing and communities and £250k to daycare services. 

Bournemouth Echo:

In addition, BCP Council will hand £4k to every councillor as part of a ‘ward-based improvement fund’ to make a “better contribution to their community”. 

Deputy leader Millie Earl said the situation the council is now in has been the result of a “long story” of government funding for councils and “the previous administration's decisions”. 

She added: “Some of the saving lines are so small: we’ve got £8k, £4k, but that shows how much we have scrubbed every single area by this council to find where we can make potential savings. 

“This is very much about enabling and giving community ownership and prioritising our community’s needs, rather than us making those decisions and moving on.” 

Cllr Cox added: “There is no sugar coating that can hide the depths to which this council has had to trawl to recover from the legacy it has inherited from the previous administration. 

“None of us should underestimate that some of the savings come at significant cost to service users.” 

The budget includes £41m of savings, efficiencies and additional income such as rising council tax by 4.99 per cent. 

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Vikki SladeCllr Vikki Slade (Image: Freelance)

Council leader Vikki Slade slammed the government over its SEND funding, adding: “Clearly the government isn’t going to do anything about it in their dying days. 

“We have to hope that the next government will come up with a long-term solution.” 

Cllr Kieron Wilson, cabinet member for housing, said: “It’s been such a difficult challenge. I don’t think members of the public will be able to understand how hard it has been for us. 

“We’re not polished politicians, most of us are members of our community with a deep affiliation to the area we live in.  

“And we don’t want to make any of these service reductions or cuts.”