‘Tough decisions’ mean council’s books are already balanced for next year

Cllr James Palmer

Cllr James Palmer - Credit: Archant

East Cambridgeshire District Council says that it won’t be forced to make any further cuts next year after tight financial controls meant that officials managed to claw back an extra half-a-million in efficiency savings.

Accounts made available this week show that the authority had under spent by a whopping £516,043 against its budget of almost £8.8million.

The spare cash will be carried forward into next year and, as a result, the council says that it has already balanced its budget for 2015/16 and no new cuts will have to be found.

Leader of the council, Councillor James Palmer said: “East Cambridgeshire District Council is in an excellent position because this year we took the tough but necessary decisions to create not just a new organisation but a new Council.

“We have streamlined the structure of the authority to become fit for purpose and maximise the talents of our officers. Members have been driving the process as we have revised our committees to discuss and tackle the challenges we have faced.

“These measures plus others have ensured we are able to present a balanced budget this year and we also estimate we’ll be able to balance our budget the year after too. This is a fantastic - it shows that as a relatively small authority we had the foresight to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to give value for money for our council tax payers.

“We are far from complacent as we know there is more to do but rest assured everyone at the Council is working to deliver the services and infrastructure our district needs both now and in the future.”

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The council said the money was clawed back thanks to a recent staff restructure, which saw 14 jobs made redundant and the number of council committees cut back.

Cllr James Palmer was full of praise for the council’s financial services team, commending their “excellent budget management” at the last governance and finance committee meeting.

Cllr Palmer said that East Cambs was in an “enviable position” compared with its neighbours, with Fenland District Council still to find £300,000 worth of savings, South Cambridgeshire District Council relying on reserves and both Cambridge City and Huntingdonshire facing shortfalls “in the millions” – he added.