‘There’s not much left to cut’ – Portsmouth City Council leader warns that millions more need to be saved in coming years

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SIMPLE budget cuts are no longer the answer, the leader of Portsmouth City Council has said.

Following eight years of cutbacks and low council tax yields the council has so far been forced to save £98m to stay in the black. Despite this a further £12m of savings is required over the next three years to stay in budget.

But council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, is not convinced making straightforward cuts to services is the best option.

He said: ‘We have got the same target of saving £4m a year which is the same as last year.

‘This is my 12th budget. There have been cuts in every single budget I have presented. At every one we have to find savings, it just gets more difficult.

‘We have to try to make sure we cut things that have the least effect. But then that is only possible to a certain point. We have to be clever about how we can make savings in other ways.

‘For example, we are currently delivering wheelie bins to the city. In the areas that have been trialled the amount of rubbish being put in bins has gone down. The council is charged for every single tonne of rubbish that is incinerated. This means that the council has to pay less money and therefore makes a saving. But at the same time the bin collections continue as normal.’

In a report compiled ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday main areas of financial pressure on the council were contributed as overspending in adult and children’s services which is in line with other councils nationwide. Currently these deficits total £6.1m.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘Overspend in adult and children’s services is the same as it normally is. There has always been an overspend in children’s social care. We have to bring it back to budget if we can and hopefully we will bring it back.

‘What we have got is £7m in contingency which we could use to sort out the problems. When planning we have to make sure we have enough money in the contingency fund to be able to pay for any overspend which we do.’

The report also noted other methods of generating income including council-owned properties which are part of its property investment fund that have generated an income of £8.4m a year.

Further details on how the council can generate income will be heard at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 6.