Residents are being asked how they would save £32 million from Derbyshire County Council’s budget next year as the authority faces government cuts for the eighth year in a row.
A six-week consultation has now been launched and people are being encouraged to take part by using a specially-designed online budget calculator and consider the same tough decisions currently being faced by the county council in setting its budget for the coming financial year.
The budget calculator can be found by going to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/challenge.
Once on the page, people will be able to see all the services the council spends money on and decide, using a slider tool, where they would spend money and where they would take money away. The consequences of their decisions on each council service will be revealed to people taking part as they make their choices.
The budget calculator, which has been provided to the county council free of charge, allows people to make choices about the level of spending across five council areas:
• Children’s services
• Adult social care
• Health and communities
• Highways, transport and infrastructure
• Council support and public engagement.
Over the next four years the county council is facing cuts to its budget of at least a further £75m, due to reductions in grants from Central Government and other pressures including inflation, meeting the Living Wage and greater demands on social care and services for vulnerable children. This is on top of more than £200m of cuts already made.
The cuts are set to continue and by 2020/21 the council will be spending a third less on providing services than it was before government austerity cuts to local council funding began in 2010.
Derbyshire County Council’s Leader, Councillor Anne Western, said: “We have worked very hard to balance our books in the face of year-on-year government cuts to our budget, and as a result we’ve already had to make some difficult decisions about some of our services.
“Unfortunately, as the cuts to our budget continue, we’re facing another tough year and we will have no choice but to look at making further reductions to services.
“We’d like the public to take part in our budget consultation and work alongside us to help make the hard choices we’re facing.”
Councillor Western added: “We are always looking at new ways of saving money and generating income across the whole council.
“We have recently set up a private development company to build much needed homes and generate income for council services, making effective use of land we no longer need and creating employment opportunities within the county.”
To take part in the online consultation people should go to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/challenge.
As well as the online consultation, people can also give their views using a paper questionnaire, which will be available in Derbyshire libraries in the next few days.
The closing date for the online consultation is Wednesday January 4 2017.