Council leader sets out 'unrelenting' budget cuts proposals

7 July 2014

Derbyshire County Council's Leader laid bare the effect of 'unrelenting' Government budget cuts which will force the end of some services.


The council is reviewing its five year financial plan and this has confirmed that it is facing the toughest cuts in the council's history.

Cuts in Government grants - which make up 68% of the council's budget - inflation and greater demands on services for older people and vulnerable children mean the county council needs to cut £157m from its budget by 2018.

As part of this £157m reduction, the authority's Cabinet will meet next week (Tuesday 15 July) to consider further potential budget reductions over the next three years totalling nearly £70m.

If all the proposals go ahead, the result could be around 2,000 fewer jobs at the county council over the next three years on top of the 1,600 announced last year. It is hoped that job losses will be minimised by not replacing staff who leave and by voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes. Every effort will be made to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Anne Western said:

"In 2010, the Government told us these cuts would last for five years. With every year that has passed since yet, the cuts have got deeper and stretch further into the future. We need to be absolutely clear - we do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services local people rely on. The Government has left us no choice and we are having to think the unthinkable. Its budget reductions mean we have to cut our spending on local services by more than a third.

"We're laying our cards on the table because we want local people to understand the scale of what we're dealing with and this is what we need to do to balance the books over the next three years.

"We're doing all we can to protect services from cuts by continually looking for new and better ways of doing things and if we can avoid making some of these cuts further down the road then we will."

She added:

"We're already using some money from reserves - which is cash set aside for unexpected costs and emergencies - and pumping it into frontline services such as adult care.

"But despite all this, it's not enough. Spending reserves is like spending your savings, you can only do it once. We've got £29m left and that wouldn't even be enough to keep the council going for two weeks.

"Basically, it all boils down to the hard fact that unless there is a change of policy at national level, some frontline services will have to go and others will be heavily reduced."

The latest proposals for budget cuts are in addition to those already announced earlier this year. These included changes to adult care, faith school and special educational needs transport as well as increasing the amount people pay for their adult care and support, increasing the level at which people qualify for adult care services. A proposal to reduce the budget for housing related support services is being considered by Cabinet on 15 July.

The latest potential budget reductions are set out in the provisional five year plan and will form the basis for consultation on the development of the 2015/2016 budget. This will be further considered by Cabinet and Full Council later in the year, after consultation with local people.

Potential budget reductions over the next three years include:

  • Cutting the budget for Direct Care by 25%. Direct Care is the care provided by council social care workers to hundreds of people across its residential homes, day care, extra support services and in people's homes.
  • Closing up to 23 children's centres.
  • Ending the b_line concessionary travel and discount scheme for 11 to 19 year olds, unless we can find other ways of funding the service. 
  • Removing school crossing patrols in 2015 unless alternative ways of funding individual sites can be found.
  • Gritting fewer roads and less money for maintaining them.
  • Cutting grants to voluntary and community groups.
  • Reducing staffing and opening hours for libraries with less money for books.
  • Cutting the budget for countryside services by a third.

Measures the council is taking to save money includes sharing buildings and services with district and borough councils, selling surplus land and buildings and saving more than £2m by reducing the number of senior managers.

It is also making the best use of public health cash to support services under threat of being reduced or stopped where this would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of local people.

Councillor Western said:

"As far as we can, we want to reduce the impact of these cuts so we will consult with local people every step of the way and listen carefully to their comments to help us find the best options for Derbyshire's future.

"In fact, we've already changed some proposals announced in January based on feedback we've received from the public.

"But difficult decisions lie ahead and understandably many people will be unhappy with the painful decisions that lie ahead."

Despite facing unprecedented Government cuts, Councillor Western said the council would continue to work hard to support the thousands of Derbyshire families facing poverty and do everything it could to protect vulnerable people who rely on its services.

"We're not the only ones facing massive cuts. Every other council in the country needs to make them," said Councillor Western. "But while I realise this will be no consolation to people losing services they rely on, Derbyshire County Council's services will still be better than most other councils."

She added:

"Now, more than ever before, Derbyshire deserves a strong council that will fight for a fair deal for Derbyshire. We are working closely with other local councils of all political colours through the Local Government Association to send the message to the Government that local services are too important to slash in this way."

For more information including details about consultations currently being held and how to get involved visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/challenge (opens in a new window)

Proposed additional cuts for 2015/2016

Adult Care - £2.724m including:

Day Care Services - £550,000

The proposed cut to Day Care Services concerns the council's Community Lives initiative established in 2012. This programme aims to further develop and change the way services are provided for people with learning disabilities and will affect services, often at more traditional day care bases, which people with learning disabilities use during the day, evenings and weekends. Community Lives aims to reduce demand on more traditional day services in favour of more community-based services, supporting people to take part in voluntary work, leisure activities and develop skills to travel on their own. As a result of this programme savings would be made by reducing the reliance on day centres and increasing the number of shared bases which would be used by people with learning disabilities and older people.

Grants to Voluntary Organisations - £400,000

Over the next two years the grants the council gives to help voluntary and community groups are proposed to be cut and the criteria for giving out grants reviewed. This would affect groups countywide which provide a range of services and activities in the community, catering for many different groups of people including older and vulnerable people, carers groups, people with mental ill health and people with disabilities. This proposed cut for the first year is £400,000. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cuts for the second year.

Community Equipment Service - £290,000

The council is proposing to reduce the current contribution it makes into a pooled budget with the local NHS, which is used to provide equipment to help people live safely at home. The range of equipment includes bathing and toileting equipment, power-assisted beds, specialist mattresses, hoists and specialist seating. A review will be carried out on the types of equipment currently provided, and the council will work to identify low cost items that could be bought directly by the client.

Children and Younger Adults - £5.081m including:

Adult Education - £80,000

A review of the adult education service is proposed to restructure and reduce management costs, increase the money made by courses, assess and reduce the number of buildings and/or increase their use to reduce running costs to the county council where possible. A further paper is planned to go to a later Cabinet to look at these proposals in more detail. The proposed cut for the first year is £80,000. See 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 for the proposed cuts for the second and third years.

Children's Centres - £1m

Following a review of children's centres the authority will consider closing up to seven of them, with further potential closures possible at a later date, with some services instead being provided through partnership working with other organisations and bases, volunteer-led support and targeted help and support for families that need it most.

Support for Disabled Children - £200,000

A review and reduction of the support offered to disabled children. Joint assessment of health, education and social care services will help determine what would be offered. The proposed cut for the first year is £200,000. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cuts for the second year. A further paper is planned to go to a later Cabinet to look at the Aiming High budget in more detail.

Youth Offending Service - £232,000

The authority is proposing reducing the number of staff and cutting the amount of support offered to young offenders.

Economy, Transport and Environment - £7.064m including:

Community Transport  - £600,000

Over two years the council is proposing to cut all support it currently gives to the eight community transport schemes across Derbyshire.  However, there will still be some money left to spend on public transport and it may be possible to use some of that funding to pay for community transport type services. The proposed cut for the first year is £600,000. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cut for the second year.

b_line - £720,000

The council's b_line scheme, which provides discounted fares on public transport for 14-19 year olds, and a discount scheme in 700 local shops for 11 to 19 year olds, is proposed to end in 2015. The council will look for alternative ways of helping young people to get discounts on public transport.

Local Bus Support - £1m

Many rural and evening and Sunday bus services along with some daytime services on estate roads are paid for by the council. Many of these services are proposed to stop. The remaining money left in this budget will be used to help fund some services, subject to consultation. The proposed cut for the first year is £1m. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cut for the second year.

School Crossing Patrols - £600,000

The school crossing patrol budget pays for school crossing patrols in around 200 locations across the county. Under the proposals, all the school crossing patrols would end in 2015 unless alternative ways of funding individual sites can be found.

Countryside Service - £451,000

Over the next three years, a third of the budget for countryside services is proposed to go. During this time, the council will look to pass responsibility for some of its sites to other groups and organisations and sell some sites.  Under the proposals, the events programme will go unless alternative ways of funding it can be found. The council will try to increase income by charging more for car parking and renegotiating leases for things like ice cream vans and cafes at its sites. The proposed cut for the first year is £451,000. See 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 for the proposed cuts for the second and third years.

Winter Maintenance - £200,000

Gritting routes will be reviewed to see if savings can be made by organising them in a different way and managing with fewer gritting lorries. This is likely to mean fewer roads are gritted.

Street Lighting - £400,000

Over the next three years, the council is proposing to replace street lights in certain locations only but is looking at the possibility of replacing all its street lights with LED lights. This would cost millions of pounds, but would save money on maintenance and electricity costs for many years. The proposed cut for the first year is £400,000. See 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 for the proposed cuts for the second and third years.

Highway Maintenance - £1m

The council is proposing to spend less on routine highways maintenance but is developing proposals to invest in improving roads which will reduce maintenance costs. The proposed cut for the first year is £1m. See 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 for the proposed cuts for the second and third years.

World Heritage Site - £60,000

Proposals are to reduce the amount the council spends on the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site, but to look for different ways of continuing to support it. 

Health and Communities - £1.026m including:

Community Safety Project Fund - £50,000

The proposal is to reduce the community safety project fund budget. This could impact on the amount and quality of the work done with communities to reduce issues such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and anti-social behaviour. The proposed cut for the first year is £50,000. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cut for the second year.

Trading Standards - £150,000

The council is proposing to cut £150,000 from its Trading Standards Service by 2015-16. A review of the service will identify where cuts can be made, and this could impact on the response time of officers to routine complaints and less proactive work, including checks on shopkeepers selling illegal tobacco.

Libraries and Heritage Restructure - £250,000

The council is proposing to restructure its libraries and heritage service and reduce opening hours and subsequently staffing levels. The proposed cut for the first year is £250,000. See 2017/2018 for a further amount proposed to be cut.

Proposed additional cuts for 2016/2017

Adult Care - £13.426m including:

Grants to Voluntary Organisations - £2.3m

The proposed cut for the second year is £2.3m. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year.

Direct Care Services - £6.160m

Over the next two years the council is proposing to cut the amount is spends on its Direct Care services by £11 million, which is a 25% cut. Direct Care is the social care staff employed by the council to provide care and support to hundreds of people across its residential homes, day care, extra support services and in people's homes. Under this proposal, there would be more of a focus on providing specialist care, for example in community care centres and extra care developments, but many people receiving care from the council's Direct Care services would need to transfer to the independent sector providers for their care. The council would provide 70% less home care, 50% less day care, 50% less residential care and 50% less community support.  Any proposed change would be subject to full consultation before any decisions were taken. The proposed cut for this year is £6.160m. See 2017/2018 for a further amount proposed to be cut.

Children and Younger Adults - £7.45m including:

Adult Education - £50,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £50,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2017/2018 for the proposed cut for the third year.

Disabled Children - £285,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £285,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year.

Support Work with Children and Families - £3m

Proposals are to reduce the early support work done with children and families with the potential closure of 13 of the county council's multi-agency teams, stopping the council's 'open to all' youth provision and some youth centres and instead only offering youth services to those youngsters most in need. The proposed cut for 2016/2017 is £3m. See 2017/2018 for a further amount proposed to be cut. 

Support Work with Schools - £500,000

The authority's support to schools, which is currently provided by the advisory service, is proposed to be reduced. Peer-to-peer support will be developed between county schools.

Education Psychology Service - £140,000

Proposals to reduce the service provided by education psychology officers with less frequent visits to children with special educational needs.

Local Inclusion Officers - £200,000

Proposals to reduce the service provided by local inclusion officers, with less frequent visits to children with special educational needs.

Economy, Transport and Environment - £5.448m including:

Community Transport - £860,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £860,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year.

Local Bus Support - £1.5m

The proposed cut for the second year is £1.5m. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year.

Countryside Service - £335,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £335,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2017/2018 for the proposed cut for the third year.

Street Lighting - £420,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £420,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2017/2018 for the proposed cut for the third year.

Highway Maintenance - £1m

The proposed cut for the second year is £1m. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2017/2018 for the proposed cuts for the third years.

Health and Communities - £705,000 including:

Community Safety Project Fund - £50,000

The proposed cut for the second year is £50,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year.

Library Stock - £350,000

Funding is proposed to be reduced to buy new books and other materials such as DVDs, ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, online services and newspapers for libraries. The proposed cut for 2016/2017 is £350,000. See 2017/2018 for a further amount proposed to be cut. 

Arts Service - £65,000

The council is proposing to cut funding by £65,000 in 2016/2017 to arts groups which deliver activities to older people, disabled people, people with poor mental health and schools. This could result in activities being reduced or cut and arts groups suffering financial hardship.

Proposed additional cuts for 2017/2018

Adult care - £6.725m including:

Direct Care Services - £4.840m

The proposed cut for this year is £4.840m. See 2016/2017 for details and the initial amount proposed to be cut.

Children and Younger Adults - £9.463m including:

Adult Education - £28,000

This is the last of three years of proposed cuts. See 2015/2016 for details and the amount proposed to be cut in the first year. See 2016/2017 for the amount proposed to be cut in the second year.

Support Work with Children and Families - £7.5m

Proposals are to reduce the early support work done with children and families with the potential closure of a further 20 of the county council's multi-agency teams and the potential closure of a further 16 children's centres. The proposed cut for 2017/2018 is £7.5m. See 2016/2017 for initial proposals for cuts to the service.

Economy, Transport and Environment - £2.339m including:

Countryside Service - £214,000

The proposed cut for the third year is £214,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cut for the second year.

Street Lighting - £441,000

The proposed cut for the third year is £441,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2016/2017 for the proposed cut for the second year.

Highway Maintenance - £350,000

The proposed cut for the third year is £350,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the proposed cut for the first year. See 2015/2016 for the proposed cut for the second year.

Health and Communities - £812,000 including:

Library Stock - £362,000

The proposed cut for 2017/2018 is £362,000. See 2016/2017 for details and the initial amount proposed to be cut. 

Libraries and Heritage Restructure - £400,000

The proposed cut for 2017/2018 is £400,000. See 2015/2016 for details and the initial amount proposed to be cut. 

In addition to the proposed service cuts listed above, proposed savings of around £30m will be made by reducing the number of staff in all departments, increasing income, reducing communications, closing buildings, cutting budgets for staff training and purchasing, and smarter business practices, specifically:

  • A new electronic home care recording system to record actual amount of time with clients for both Direct Care and independent sector providers. Payments to providers will then be based on actual delivery - 2015/2016.
  • Review back office costs in Children and Younger Adults (CAYA) department, management savings from a single structure for early help and safeguarding, reduced business services management costs and overall reductions in business services in line with reductions in the services it supports. Includes reductions in training, accommodation and specialist back office services - 2015/2016.
  • Looked after children - reduction in the direct costs of safeguarding by increased use of in-house foster carer provision and reduced reliance on expensive external placements - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Performance and quality (CAYA): making efficiencies in performance and QA work while still carrying out essential, statutory checks, and increasing income from trading with schools - 2015/2016.
  • Education improvement consultants - staffing savings and/or increased income from trading with schools - 2015-16.
  • Careers support service - reduced staffing and increased income from schools - 2015/2016.
  • Review of in-house Children's Homes- reduction in number of children's homes with more children in care placed in a family setting - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Increased income generation - revised offer and development of new facilities from the Sport and Outdoor Education Service - 2015/2016, 2016/2017.
  • Fostering and adoption - out-sourcing of in-house services to reduce costs - 2016/2017.
  • Increased income - opportunities to increase income from range of highways services - 2015/2016.
  • Gold Card - minimising the gap between Government funding and actual payments to operators - 2015/2016.
  • Efficiencies from the re-design of functions that support the delivery of services to residents - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Improved value for money in the procurement of externally provided goods and services - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Efficiencies from continued development of SAP in transactional and management information areas - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Reduction in change management capacity - loss of capacity to deliver major change initiatives, will leave a reliance on the achievement of one-off funding through a bid process as the main way to continue service improvements - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Changes in legislation around carbon reduction initiatives will lead to savings - 2015/2016.
  • Income generation  - additional income from services delivered to residents - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Reductions in property maintenance expenditure to partly reflect reduced numbers of properties, will increase maintenance backlog - 2015/2016.
  • Service and staff reductions in Chief Executive's Office - reduction in budgets through reduced communications and policy and research services to elected members, departments and citizens - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.
  • Reductions in staffing across all departments - 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018.

Notes to editors

Derbyshire County Council needs to cut £157m from its budget (based on 2013 figures) by 2018 due to cuts in Government grants, inflation and greater demands on services for older people and vulnerable children.

 Derbyshire County Council is funded by:

  • Government grants - 68%
  • Council tax - 23%
  • Other income - 9%

 Pressures on the county council's budget are added to by:

  • Looking after an ageing population and increases in the number of disabled adults and people with the early onset of dementia - £5.4m
  • Increasing costs of placing children for adoption - £440,000
  • Increasing living costs for children who are leaving care but not yet living independently - £150,000
  • Increases in the number of children with special educational needs provided with home to school transport by the county council - £440,000
  • Increasing costs of sending waste to landfill (Landfill Tax) - £1.79m
  • Inflation increase in cost of funding local bus contracts - £115,000
  • The cost of borrowing money to build Extra Care housing - the county council's purpose-built accommodation with care and support for older and vulnerable people - £600,000

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