A financial cliff looms for Gloucestershire County Council in the next three years with the authority preparing to slash its budget by £30 million.
Shire Hall bosses are bracing for a perfect storm of further swingeing cuts to Government funding, the continual sting of inflation and the cost of keeping up with ever increasing demand on services in the period between now and 2017.
And the only way to cope will be to find more savings on top of the £114 million that have already been found since 2010.
The result is a predicted budget of £401 million in 2016/17, a staggering £30 million less than what the county council is spending this year.
The authority’s Conservative cabinet agreed to its budget for 2014/15 worth £428 million, a drop of £2.8 million on this year, on Wednesday.
The latest projections suggest that will drop to £409 million in 2015/16 before dropping to almost £400 million the year after.
The spending area likely to be worst hit will be adult services, which includes caring for the elderly, which is predicted to see its budget drop from £151 million this year to £138 million in 2016/17, a real terms cash cut of £13m.
Councillor Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member for finance and change and deputy leader of the council, said the forecasts “do not make comfortable reading for us”.
“Proposals on managing this reduction will be put forward in the coming months,” he said.
Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of the council, added: “We are facing considerable challenges in next year’s budget and we will have to deliver significant savings going forward.”
The authority’s budget for 2014/15 will be debated by the full council in February before it is set in stone.
The county council was anticipating its overall budget figure to be substantially lower but it revised the figure after it received approximately £5 million more than expected in council tax income from all of the district councils in Gloucestershire.
The Conservative cabinet has proposed spending £500,000 of that extra cash on trying to fix the A417 Missing Link.
Mr Theodoulou said the budget for 2014/15 is a lesson in “living within our means” which will help “communities to help themselves”.
“We are getting our house in order by reducing costs, disposing of surplus assets and by renegotiating contracts,” he said.
“We have continued our strategy of protecting vulnerable people both young and old.”