Burnley Council aims to balance books with new savings proposals

Burnley Town Hall
Burnley Town Hall
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Burnley Council will look to cut jobs and relocate its contact centre as part of plans to meet financial challenges.

A report by council’s head of finance and property services, Asad Mushtaq, to the council’s scrutiny committee sets out the financial position for the council and how it can balance the books over the coming three years.

Mr Mushtaq said: “The council is commercially minded. This means we will make efficiency savings through our contracts and through good estate management.

"Unfortunately, however, given the scale of the budget gap the council must also consider staff savings. We will always aim to do this in a way that minimizes the impact on priority services.”

The council has an annual net budget of £15.1m and it is projecting that it will need to save £3.2m over the next three financial years.

The report sets out an initial range of revenue-raising and efficiency measures totaling £877,000, and says that further measures will be identified to bridge the gap in due course.

A total of £156,000 will be saved through re-locating the contact centre from its current location in Red Lion Street to the old banking hall in the council office on Parker Lane just across the road.

The report also expects the council to achieve a £72,000 saving on utility bills. An extra £70,000 is to be generated through investment in property funds.

Savings of £270,000 are proposed by reducing the number of staff positions in the council by twelve, although five of the ‘at risk’ posts are currently vacant. The affected posts are spread across a number of council departments.

In 2010, the council had over 600 staff positions. This year, following transfer of some services to Liberata, the creation of Burnley Leisure Trust, as well as previous staff redundancies, the number stands at 219 permanent or temporary staff.

Should the posts be reduced in line with the report, next year the number will be 207.

Work to identify further savings for 2019/20 will be carried out between now and next February when the 2019/20 budget is set.

Coun. Sue Graham, the council’s executive member for resources and performance management, said: “Year after year, we have pressed the case for a fairer system of funding for local government, so that areas like Burnley are not disproportionately affected by central government cuts.

“Nevertheless, as in previous years, the council needs to take difficult decisions now to ensure it continues to provide quality services to the standard expected by residents. We will continue to invest in those services and projects that make a real difference to quality of life in the borough.

“The report shows how the council takes a well-planned approach to what is a very serious challenge. This approach has been praised by our external auditors.”