Threat to services and jobs as cash shortfall revealed

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Cllr Hannah Hockaday

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JOB cuts and a reduction in services could be on the horizon after Fareham Borough Council has warned it needs to make savings of £800,000.

The announcement was made at last night’s meeting of the ruling executive, following an internal report into the council’s financial strategy.

The report looked at income and expenditure by the council and highlighted a budget shortfall of £800,000 over the next five years, meaning a shake up of jobs and a possible cut back of services.

Convservative leader of the council Cllr Sean Woodward made the announcement, and said: ‘The council has had to take some tough decisions since the recession started in 2008.

‘Despite stories of economic recovery in the media, the unfortunate reality is that councils still have to find further savings over the next few years as a result of government cutbacks and Fareham is no exception.

‘Our focus will continue to be maintaining the services that matter to customers and increasing levels of customer satisfaction.

‘We have a good track record in making savings and I have no doubt we will meet this new challenge.’

The amount of funding Fareham Borough Council receives from central government has reduced from £6.2m in 2010 to £4m in 2013. In the next two years, it is expected to further reduce by £1m.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘Tough times continue.’

Cllr Woodward said that until now the council had not passed on any of the cutbacks on to the council tax payer.

He said: ‘This is not going to be easy as many of the opportunities have already been taken.’

He added that the council would look at making the savings by making efficiency savings, reducing the costs of its services and a restructuring of jobs.

Lib Dem leader of the opposition Cllr Paul Whittle said: ‘We need to protect front line services and the staff that are delivering these front line services.

‘We have to be very careful as a council as to where we find these savings and it is important that the money collected from the tax payer for services goes to services.

‘It brings it in to focus that it is inappropriate to spend £300,000 on external consultants to improve customer satisfaction.’