Mayor's first job will be to cut £25 million
ONE of the first jobs facing Bristol's incoming elected mayor will be to cut an extra £25 million from the city council's budget.
The authority has revealed it faces making deeper cuts than first anticipated as funding from central government is reduced.
Two years ago, the council announced it had been forced to make £70 million in budget savings by 2014/15. That figure has now been revised to £95 million. Some £55m in cuts have already been made, leaving the new elected mayor with the daunting task of finding a further £40m in savings once he or she takes office in November.
The mayor will be responsible for presiding over cuts worth £20m to £25m during their first financial year at the helm.
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The council's budget for the next two years has been revised because the Government has made changes to the council tax benefit system – leaving a £5m shortfall – reduced the city's academy funding by £2.5m and scrapped the authority's council tax freeze grant of £4.5m.
It is also facing making bigger cuts because it has borrowing and revenue costs of £3m from additional capital investment and spent £7m on a project to reduce the size of the council.
Council officers are now preparing a list of options for plugging the huge financial gap.
The ideas will be presented to the new mayor when he or she takes up the position following the election on November 15.
Tim Kent, right, city councillor responsible for the revenue budget, said: "The budget for the next financial year will be the first big decision for the newly-elected mayor to take and as usual officers are preparing detailed options they can consider for achieving this target. As we approach the official campaign period, it is important to make clear the very real budget pressures that the city council and local government as a whole is facing.
"Mayoral candidates will no doubt want to make commitments, but if they have capital or revenue implications, then further savings will need to be identified.
"We have made £55 million savings so far, which has been challenging but has been achieved with determined effort by cabinet colleagues and officers, particularly in stripping away back-office administration costs."