Wellingborough Council is on target to achieve savings of more than £5m according to a new report. Since the need for cuts was announced last year the council has already saved more than £1.5m.
The majority of the savings so far have come from a reduction in employees, with 67 voluntary and 17 compulsory redundancies. Up until now these redundancies have saved around £920,000, including £560,000 from a management restructure. Some services are still being restructured and employees are still working their notice, meaning more savings from redundancies of around £800,000 are still to come.
Other savings have come from reducing budgets, changing the ways things are done, and increasing income. Examples include a £7,000 reduction in the party in the park budget, £8,000 by banning the use of first class mail, £2,500 from stopping refreshments at meetings, £3,000 by cleaning windows less often, and £37,000 by reducing the cost of legal and ICT services. Councillors now only get one payment for taking on extra responsibilities, meaning a saving of more than £5,000, and the cancellation of the councillor ward support scheme means a further £35,000 saved. Income has been generated by increasing fees and charges to be more in line with the average charged by other councils.
Further savings due in the future include closing the council's cash desk and moving to a more convenient and flexible system of payments in local shops (£57,000), temporarily stopping garden waste collections over the winter months (£63,000), and reducing caretaking and cleaning arrangements (£28,000).
Councillor Thomas Pursglove, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: "We were set a very difficult challenge this time last year when we discovered that our grant from central government would be reduced by more than £1.4m. We were already looking at making savings of £2.5m to reduce our reliance on reserves, but the announcement that we had to save even more, and continue to absorb further government cuts over the next three years, made for some very tough decisions.
"It's good news that we're on target to achieve these savings, but the sheer amount we have to save, plus the loss of such a large number of hard working and dedicated employees, is obviously having an impact on services. There are fewer people to do the work and some of the people that have left had been here for a very long time and had extensive knowledge and expertise. Having said that, all members of staff are working very hard to adjust to new roles and responsibilities so that as high a level of service as possible is maintained for the public."