Hertfordshire County Council will have to save another £90 million over the next four years, councillors were told.

Increasing demand for services like adult social care, education, children’s services and waste disposal, and the rising cost of delivery will increase spending by an estimated £140 million over the next four years.

But a financial outline report shows income is expected to increase by just £50 million.

Up to half of the £90million savings needed over the next four years have already been identified.
All council departments will be told they must identify new savings over the summer.

Executive member for resources and performance Cllr Ralph Sangster warned that the next year will be “one of the most financially challenging (years) we have faced in recent times.”

The report suggests that while 85 per cent of previous savings have involved ‘efficiencies’, there may now be a need for further cuts to services.

It states: “The council has successfully made significant savings in the region of £315 million since 2010 – but we are approaching a point where further efficiencies are increasingly difficult to identify and deliver.

“Whilst all alternatives will need to be exhausted before front-line service reductions are considered, it’s clear that few, if any, such alternatives are available and some difficult decisions lie ahead.”

According to the report to the cabinet, the amount of funding the county council receives from central government is now £150 million lower than it was in 2010.

The report identifies a number of future options, including ‘transforming’ services – by using investment to cut costs in the longer term – and looking at other ways things could be done more efficiently.

Children’s services are already investigating whether investment in capital assets – such as residential facilities for children in care – would reduce revenue.

Work will include looking at whether income could be generated from the sale of council-owned buildings – which would also reduce maintenance costs.

And it highlights the current work at Apsley, near Hemel Hempstead, where staff who are currently based across two buildings are moving into one – saving almost £2 million.

The council will also look at whether more income could be generated through fees and charges – either by increasing take-up, increasing charges or charging for services.

The report says that starting this process months earlier than usual will mean there is time for comprehensive consultation with councillors and the public.