Dorset

Dorset County Council consults over £5.6m cuts

Plans to reduce Dorset County Council's budget by a further £5.6m in 2012-13 are to be put to residents in a consultation.

Council staff and residents are to consult over potential savings in areas such as road maintenance, care homes and mental health services.

The final recommendations will be put to the full council in February when the budget is due to be agreed.

The county's portion of council tax will remain frozen for a second year.

The Conservative-led authority said its grant settlement for 2012-13 fell by 5.4%, meaning it must reduce its spending by more than £15m in the next financial year.

Closer collaboration

The 2011-12 settlement was £69,511,000. The settlement for 2012-13 will be £65,748,000.

A spokesman said most of the money would be found through a continuing efficiencies programme and closer collaboration with other councils, but the authority needed to find a further £5.7m of savings.

The council hopes to save £150,000 on mental health services, £960,000 by reshaping some children's services and £250,000 by replacing parish road maintenance units.

Fee-paying clients could also be allowed to use some council care homes, to generate up to £253,000 of savings.

Spencer Flower, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: "These are tough times, and we need to make difficult decisions.

"It is becoming more and more difficult to find the savings, and it can't happen without some impact on staff and services.

"But we've got to have the strength to get on and deal with it."

Councillors also agreed to keep council tax frozen for a second year. The authority accepted a one-off grant of £5m to allow it to keep the charge at its current level.

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