Bucks chiefs ‘get umbrella out’ and splash cash reserves

Martin Tett
Martin Tett
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Around £10 million of county council reserves are to be used up to combat Government cuts.

The council currently has £35.9 million in reserves not already earmarked for projects. By the end of the next financial year this is expected to drop to £27.9 million and by the end of 2016/17 it will be around £24 million.

Government funding to the council has fallen by £14.4 million for 2013/14 and county council leader Martin Tett says it is right to use the authority’s ‘healthy’ reserves at such a time.

Mr Tett said: “There is no point putting money away for a rainy day and then when it rains leaving the umbrella in the cupboard.

“We are running down our reserves very significantly and it is right that we do so.

“But we can’t do that forever. We have to be prudent so we can safeguard the future as well. If we spend it all we would be in serious trouble in four or five years time.”

As well as the non-earmarked reserves, the council has just over £91 million in earmarked reserves. This is expected to be reduced to £88.9 million by March 2014.

However, Mr Tett warned that it would soon become hard for the council to make further savings without hitting public services.

He said: “We have taken out a phenomenal amount of cost in this county. We have been making efficiency savings for the best part of 10 years. We are getting to the stage where really large new efficiency savings are going to get really difficult to make.”

The budget proposals, which include a third successive council tax freeze, an additional £25 million in road repairs and protecting voluntary sector grants, have been approved by cabinet members. They are due to be discussed by full council on Thursday.