Budget to look after the city’s vulnerable

Civic Offices
Civic Offices

FEWER than 100 jobs will be cut as part of £14 million worth of savings for the coming year.

Two assistant director positions are scheduled to be axed along with a number of other jobs at varying grades.

Savings from the cuts will equate to around £350,000.

At an annual budget meeting, held on Tuesday night at the council’s Civic Offices, leader of the council Andrew Geary presented what he called ‘the most difficult budget he has seen in 10 years as a councillor.’

He said the key to this year’s budget was ‘the protection of the most vulnerable and deprived areas of society’ and that efficiency savings were balanced by investments in key services.

Mr Geary said: “Building this budget was far from just a financial exercise. At every step we have taken care to understand how people will be impacted by changes and whether the changes are fair and sustainable.”

The council will make more than £1 million worth of savings from renegotiating its service contract with private and public contract partners Mouchel.

A further £172,000 will be gained by increasing cemetery and crematorium charges, a rise Mr Geary felt brought the city in line with neighbouring authorities.

He said: “Authorities in Northampton and Bedford have charged more than Milton Keynes for a number of years and we have offered a reduced price service, subsidised by the council.

“However, now we have to look at ways in which we can offer the same level of service while saving money on subsidies.”

Three sports associations across the city are also set to lose out as funding is cut to Bucks and Milton Keynes Sports Partnership, Sport:MK and Milton Keynes Athletics Club.

In the first year £20,000 will be cut, before cuts of £21,000, £18,000 and £103,000 over the next three years.

Increased revenue to the tune of £34,500 will also be generated from a range of services, programmes and events at city libraries.

This will include charges for Wi-Fi and scanning, asking for donations for activities such as story time, increasing book reservation charges and upping charges for the school library service.

Mr Geary said: “The level of savings this year is not as great as it needed to be last year but it has been a bigger challenge to set the budget overall.”