Hertfordshire County Council today revealed plans to cut £150 million from its annual budget.
Councillor Robert Gordon, leader of the council said: “This is the most significant transformation of the business since it was founded. This is in a totally different league.”
Under its Council for the Future programme, County Hall will “squeeze every penny” to save £150 million a year by 2013/14, which is equal to 20 per cent of its non-schools budget.
So far £110 million of savings have been identified, leaving a shortfall of £40 million, which is likely to be met with cuts to frontline services and increased charges announced between now and February.
Services likely to be affected include the library services and school bus transport.
However, council leader Councillor Robert Gordon warned the figure could rise to £190 million following the Coalition Government's Comprehensive Spending Review announced next Wednesday.
He told the council today (Tuesday): “We have adopted a genuine transformational approach because we recognise the importance of the services we provide; we are not in the business of 'slash and burn'. We will be leaner, but not meaner'.”
As part of the “efficiency savings”, care services will “put even greater emphasis on early intervention, personalisation and independent living”, while early intervention is also hoped to “drive down” the number of children in care and save £6million a year.
The council also wants to increase the number of elderly residents living in their own homes, rather than in “costly residential placements”, to save more than £10 million a year.
More money will be saved by providing “more effective” customer service to residents at a lower cost, by taking advantage of new technology, and a further £3 million will be slashed by driving down the cost of services hired by the council.
The staff structure at County Hall will also be reviewed, with the number of managers set to be reduced by 25 per cent to save £10 million a year.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Gordon said: “There's an understanding out there that the world has changed. Whoever was running central Government now would be making various cuts in public spending. There's no sane voice out there that says we can continue to borrow money.”
The efficiency savings presented to the full council were generally supported by parties of all colours.
Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Chris White said the economy “is teetering on the brink of disaster”.
“We are looking for extensive de-layering,” he said. “There are too many maangers. We are also concerned about the use of technology. It's taken far too long for the website to be usable.
“Yes it's trivial but lots of triviality does a budget saving make.”
Labour councillor Nigel Bell called for more detail of the savings to be revealed.
“We want to protect the vulnerable, children and young people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Green Party councillor Ian Brandon said he could not support the cuts, which would hurt “the most vulnerable people in Hertfordshire”.