A NEW fund is to be set up to help the county council make the changes needed to cope with the budget cuts imposed by the government’s austerity programme.
The Derbyshire Challenge Fund has been set up to deal with the budget cuts and to keep job losses and service cuts to a minimum.
Derbyshire County Council is facing a further £30m of cuts on top of a £127m reduction already scheduled over the next five years.
Council leader Anne Western, said: “Because we have to save such a huge amount of money, £157m over five years, we need to consider fundamental changes to the way we deliver services.
“The Derbyshire Challenge Fund will help us invest some money to make the changes we need to do, to make bigger savings in the future.”
The Derbyshire Challenge Fund currently stands at £2.5 million and is part of The Derbyshire Challenge scheme.
Over the next four years, the authority will use the fund to help maximise savings by looking to deliver services in a new way.
To kick-start the fund, Councillor Western said the Labour Group on the council would forego their one per cent allowance increase, adding around £7,500 to the fund.
The money has come from savings from budgets within the council including smarter purchasing - £2 million each year for the next four years, investing to save money saving £420,000, savings on the civic budget totalling £80,000 and ending the Derbyshire Young Achiever and Excellence in the Community awards worth £30,000.
Under the Derbyshire Challenge, council bosses will scrutinise all areas of spending to ensure money is used where it is needed most and review senior management structures and introduce stricter vacancy controls.
The council says it will also continue its fight for a ‘fair deal’ for Derbyshire by pressing the government for more resources and working with MPs and community and voluntary groups to highlight the issues facing local government.
Bosses also hope to maximise income and grants by ensuring Derbyshire benefits from the Enterprise Partnership funds to help deliver more jobs and growth and using every opportunity to bid for extra cash to support specific projects.
Councillor Western added: “Our key priorities will be to spend every penny wisely, to target those services which are needed most and protect support for vulnerable people.
“It is down to us to lead the way in ensuring the Derbyshire community of public and voluntary services pool resources so we can jointly deliver what’s needed across the county.”