East Riding Council's £16m savings will help repair roads
MORE than £16 million saved in an East Riding Council underspend is to be used for projects including filling potholes in roads and looking after vulnerable adults in the community.
The authority responded to Government funding reductions by tightening its belt.
It has made 47 people redundant since 2010 and another 170 posts are at risk of redundancy in the next two years.
The £16.5 million underspend is described as a "significant achievement".
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Next Tuesday the cabinet will be asked to approve where the savings will be spent, including £3.3 million on highway maintenance.
Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: "Road maintenance remains a significant pressure because of the size of the network in the East Riding and the continuing impact of the severe winter weather in recent years.
"It is also one of the top priorities identified by our residents through budget consultations and it is good that the council can respond so positively as a result of prudent financial management.
"Prioritising highways maintenance is not new and we have already put in considerable additional funds over and above normal budgets to carry out essential repair work.
"An extra £500,000 was allocated in the 2011-12 budget and previously the council found £1.4 million from contingency funds to respond to the impact on the roads of the terrible weather we had at the end of 2010."
The council has also secured £2.4 million from a Government funding pot for road repairs.
As well as the cash injection ring-fenced for highways maintenance, the cabinet will be asked to approve allocating £5 million to support the £253 million capital programme – improving infrastructure such as housing, schools and roads.
An additional £6.3 million will go to ease budget pressures on adult social care, caused by the East Riding's growing elderly population.
No information is available about exactly what that will be spent on.
Mr Parnaby said the East Riding had experienced the same Government reductions as everywhere else. He credited the savings to planning ahead and robust financial management.
Mr Parnaby said: "The council has saved key services like leisure centres, libraries, children's centres and our residential care homes and day centres from service reductions and closures whilst maintaining expenditure on the voluntary and community sector at £22 million per annum – a really commendable achievement in the present financial climate."
Last month, Mr Parnaby warned the squeeze on public funding would inevitably lead to more budget cuts and further job losses.
A programme initially aimed at delivering £14 million of annual savings at the authority is being accelerated with a revised target of saving £22 million a year until 2015.
The leader said he expected the number of redundancies would be far fewer than the 170 posts currently identified because of the council's redeployment policy.