The continuing financial pressures being faced by the region’s largest local council will be highlighted at a meeting next week.
Durham County Council estimates that it needs to make further forecasted savings of £39.5m over the next four years in addition to the £224m it will have achieved during the period 2011/12 to 2018/19.
The figures are included in the latest update to the authority’s Medium Term Financial Plan, which outlines its long-term funding outlook and spending priorities.
The plan, which will be presented to the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday (January 16) emphasises the financial pressures the council continues to face despite funding announcements in the Chancellor’s autumn budget and the Local Government Finance Settlement.
Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “While we welcome any additional funding in the current financial climate, it simply does not reflect the pressures we are facing – particularly across our children’s social care services.
“There is no guarantee from Government that this will continue to be provided in future years so in many cases it is really only a short-term form of assistance.
“We have set out proposals for reducing costs and increasing income wherever possible to ensure the council can protect frontline services but this cannot continue indefinitely.
“It is very clear that for us, and other councils in our region who have seen the biggest reductions in funding that austerity is far from over.
“While we will always do our utmost to protect the services our residents rely on, the stark reality is that local government has borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity programme and there are no signs of this changing.”
As well as outlining additional government funding, the report to cabinet outlines a number of significant budget pressures such as pay and price inflation, energy price increases and the increasing cost of caring for children with more complex needs.
The council is also proposing to fund some of the increasing costs associated with children with special educational needs from its general fund reserves.
The costs of providing these services are massively outstripping government funding and more than £4m from reserves is to be used on a one-off basis in 2019/20 to balance this area of the education budget.
The council carried out a consultation with partners and the public on its proposed approach to achieving its savings target with the comments received generally supportive.
Cabinet meets at the Glebe Centre, Murton, on Wednesday, January 16.