Council considers further cost-cutting

Social care and public transport are set to be the hardest hit if a new package of North Yorkshire County Council austerity measures are approved.

The county council is in the process of attempting to save £92 million before March 31 2015, and the cuts have been seen as a potential step towards that goal.

“Government decisions on the funding of local government leave us with no alternative but to introduce significant savings to ensure that we continue to live within our means,” said county council chief executive Richard Flinton. “We have done everything possible so far to protect front line services, and we shall continue to do so.”

Mr Flinton said savings made so far have been a result of ‘back-office’ restructuring and working methods, and the council has found “innovative” ways of dealing with financial restraints. He added: “But it is inevitable that savings of the magnitude now being demanded can not be achieved without an impact on the services provided by the council.”

The proposals, which will be forwarded to the full council for ratification if approved by the Executive, include a review of the criteria for access to adult social care, reductions in subsidies for public transport and a review of charges for some social care services. In addition there would be new charges for services provided at Household Waste Recycling Centres and a review of transport arrangements for students over the age of 16 who are attending schools or colleges. For example, the county council spends £4.4m a year on subsidising the 20% of bus journeys which are not commercially viable. The proposals would reduce this amount by £1.1 million.

The major savings proposals for 2014-15 will be considered by the county council’s Executive on Tuesday. Since 2010 the council has reduced its annual operating cost of £500 million by around one third.