William Eichler 10 June 2016

Bristol cuts because of ‘crippling burden’ of austerity, warns mayor

Bristol City Council must find £44m in savings by next year, in order to address a £60m budget gap, mayor says.

The city’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees today issued an update on the council’s finances following a promise made during his inauguration speech.

He said the savings the council expects to have to make are similar to those projected in its current ‘Medium Term Financial Plan 2013/14 – 2016/17’, but adds a worst-case scenario of £8m of cost pressure in social care.

This, the mayor said, would be a £12m pressure were it not for the 2% adult social care levy added to this year’s council tax bill.

The remaining £36m of savings needed this year are in line with plans originally set in 2014, where an anticipated £34m of savings were required in 2016/17.

Mayor Rees said: ‘This is part of my administration’s inheritance and we will do all we can to limit the impact of this stark reality.

‘The council has worked hard to make savings so far, but this really underlines the crippling burden being placed on local government by the much-maligned austerity measures of the government, coupled with the growing need for vital services such as social care.’

The mayor warned the council is facing ‘unpalatable options’ because ‘there is little fat left to trim’, and he emphasised that cuts will have an impact across the entire city.

‘Cuts in services provided by Bristol City Council risk increasing costs faced by other city services: providers such as health and education, and the wider economy as a whole,’ he explained.

He announced the formation of a city office tasked with bringing partners together in order to make savings and minimise the impact on services.

‘This isn’t a magic wand,’ he cautioned. ‘It is one way of contributing towards savings, protecting the most vulnerable and building a strong foundation for the city’s future. But it won’t give us all the answers.’

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