Westminster Council Announces Front Line Services Will Be Protected
22nd February 2011
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Yesterday Westminster Council announced its plans to protect front line services from spending cuts of £60 million over the next two years.

The council pledged that no children's centres or leisure centres would close and it will maintain library services, meals on wheels, public toilets, clean streets and low council tax.

This pledge follows the Local Government Finance Settlement announcement which has imposed £23.4 million in general funding reductions and approximately £2 million in specific grant losses.

Savings proposed include:

  • £2 million from the commissioning services department
  • £1.2 million from streamlining and sharing finance services with other boroughs
  • £15 million from cutting 450 staff posts over two years, many from middle and senior management
  • £4 by consolidating premises and selling or leasing properties currently under used by the council
  • £4 saved by cutting functions in back office, legal, communications, policy and performance departments
  • £2 by implementing "multi agency customer hubs" which aim to provide a variety of council services under one roof

These moves builds on a number of measures taken by the council since 2008, which aimed to reducing spending and operating costs. These measures included cutting 500 posts (approximately 17% of the workforce), restructuring over 18 months and introducing a recruitment freeze, all of which delivered savings of £10 million.

Cllr Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster council, said: “These are tough times. Inevitably the need to reduce the national budget deficit means that there will be service reductions, but we have worked hard to ensure around 80% of our budget proposals hit the back office, not the frontline.

“The result is that there won’t be a single children’s centre closure in Westminster, there won’t be the end of the Big Society policies or the closure of leisure centres as planned by other councils. And we’ll largely maintain our library service and our public toilets.

“No-one wants to cut jobs and scale back services but previous levels of spending were unsustainable. There will be further reductions and there may be increased charges, but these will be at the minimum level necessary to maintain our services.

“We remain committed to our goal of making Westminster an even better place to live. You’ll see this in the affordable housing we are creating, the improving education results and the new community hubs that will bring our services closer to communities.”

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