Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Three Dorset councils avoid big job cuts to find 18m

By Thelma Etim
BBC News, Dorset

Bournemouth Borough Council offices
The demand for adult and children's social care has risen

Three local authorities in Dorset have managed to avoid large scale job losses despite find a total of more than £18m in savings.

Dorset County Council, which has increased its council tax by 2.97%, has to find £6m in savings.

Although Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole have raised their council tax by the same amount - 2.9% - the shortfall in funding is very different.

Borough of Poole must find £4.3m while Bournemouth must plug an £8m deficit.

All three authorities, acting with the NHS in the region, hope to make future savings by investing in a new initiative aimed at improving the wellbeing of older people to reduce the number of "inappropriate hospital admissions".

The project, called Total Place, is one of 13 pilots around England.

We are facing unprecedented financial pressures
John Beesley
Bournemouth Borough Council

Recent figures show more than 27% of the county's population is over retirement age - significantly higher than the national average of 18.7%.

By 2025, the number of people aged over 85 will double to more than 40,000, research shows.

In a recent report on the scheme, NHS Dorset said £18m could be saved over three years by cutting the number of inappropriate hospital admissions.

Dorset County Council 's chief executive David Jenkins is chairman of the Total Place Dorset pilot group.

Steve Place, from Dorset Community Action - an umbrella group for voluntary and community organisations across Dorset - also sits on the pilot group.

He believes savings in the future are possible providing more money is invested in "wellbeing and prevention".

'High demand'

Meanwhile, Bournemouth Borough Council says it will spend £2.5m on improving roads and pavements including repairs to potholes, resurfacing work and relining roads across the town.

But the authority added some jobs will be lost and empty posts will not be refilled.

Councillor John Beesley, Bournemouth's cabinet member for resources, told BBC News: "We are facing unprecedented financial pressures, but have still been able to allocate an additional £750,000 for adult personal care, and a further £1,460,000 for children's social care, both statutory service areas where demand is at an all-time high."

Job losses have been minimal at Borough of Poole with 14 disappearing from across general council services.

It said resources have been directed to "cost pressure" areas such as the rising demand for adult and children's social care.

Council leader Brian Leverett said: "We are committed to keeping council tax as low as it practically can be without having an adverse impact on local services."



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SEE ALSO
Threat to '25,000 council jobs'
01 Mar 10 |  England
Care home closure sparks protest
05 Feb 10 |  Dorset
Pay cut for 20% of council staff
28 Jan 10 |  Dorset
'Free personal care' for elderly
30 Sep 09 |  Health

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