FLINTSHIRE Council has warned it might have to cut frontline services and staff as it looks to make savings of up to £28 million over three years.

The council is now looking into setting up a scheme dubbed the Flintshire Futures Programme to oversee cost-cutting which will place an emphasis on reducing costs by eliminating waste, raising productivity and cost-effective procurement in a bid to minimise the impact on frontline services.

However, councillors were told cuts would be a last resort in a bid to balance the books.

A report on the plan was presented to the corporate management overview and scrutiny committee at County Hall and the budget situation was described as a major challenge for the authority.

Councillors were warned there could be a funding gap of between £19m and £28m between next year and 2013-2014.

Cllr Peter Macfarlane said budget cuts could destroy the reputation of the council and savings should be the single biggest priority.

He added: “Tough times are ahead of us. We do need to examine every line of the budget and the importance we attach to this has to be ongoing and detailed.

“We want to make an in-depth investigation as we are in a position where we can’t do everything. It is a matter of protecting frontline services.”

Some forecasts suggest councils across Wales could face a reduction in revenue budgets of a fifth over seven years while capital budgets could be slashed by half.
The council is also looking to fund a quarter of savings by working with other authorities through the Regional Partnership Board.

Kerry Feather, Flintshire’s head of finance, said: "The financial context for the public sector is extremely challenging. Public services will experience significant reductions in available revenue and capital resources from central government over the medium to longer term.

"The full extent of the reduction in funding in future years is subject to a number of key variables. Latest estimates for Flintshire suggest a funding gap of between £6m and £8m in each of the three years from 2011/2012 to 2013/14.

“This level of reduction will equate to around 10 per cent of the current budget over the three year period."