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COUNTIES FACE BUDGET SHORTFALL

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The counties losing services to unitary councils next spring are predicting budget shortfalls of between 3% and 10%...
The counties losing services to unitary councils next spring are predicting budget shortfalls of between 3% and 10%, an LGC survey has found.

The counties have already said they will have to consider redundancies to make up the shortfalls (LGC, 13 September).

Between them the nine counties affected by reorganisation employ the equivalent of more than 150,000 full-time staff. A third of these are due to transfer to unitary councils, along with a third of county budgets.

But most counties are planning cuts over and above what they will lose to unitary councils. Many have already made staff voluntarily redundant and cut or frozen posts.

Counties fear they will need to make cuts to stay within the spending limits imposed by the capping system. The definitive financial picture will emerge at the end of the year, after the Budget.

But officers are using notional DoE figures, based on this year's spending, to calculate the cuts they may have to make.

East Sussex CC may need to cut up to 6% in 1997-98, and up to 10% in 1998-99. Every department is reviewing its structure. The number of chief officers has been cut from 14 to seven in the last year.

Hampshire CC estimates that it will need to spend £21 million more than its grant. Reserves were drained this year by an £18m payout to cover fire damage on which the county was unable to claim insurance.

Staffordshire CC will have 650 fewer admin posts after reorganisation.

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