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Dorset reviews five-year budget strategy

East Dorset crew Waste partnership

The Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) is preparing a strategy to tackle an expected increase in its budget over the next five years and agree savings with the constituent councils.

The published minutes of the most recent meeting of the partnership on 13 June includes a report from the interim director Karyn Punchard on the DWP’s medium term financial plan (MTFP), asking councillors to note “the scale of a likely gap that will exist between expectations of DWP service delivery (and budget) and expectations of partner councils’ ability to fund the DWP, over the remaining period of the MTFP”.

The plan suggests that the 2016-17 budget of £34.2m will rise to £36.6m by 2020-21.

“In order for the DWP to meet the expectations of partner councils reductions in funding, significant changes to the current service model may need to be considered,” Punchard adds, saying no formal ‘savings target’ has been allocated to the DWP budget by partner councils.

The partnership is recovering from financial problems uncovered in 2015.

Former director Steve Burdis was suspended in March 2015 when the council members of the partnership faced a £2.8m deficit for the 2014-15 financial year. He was subsequently sacked in March after an appeal.

Selected members and senior DWP managers are holding a ‘Budget Challenge Workshop’ on 1 July for initial discussions to explore ”the viability of major changes” to save money. A review of the MTFP will be considered in October 2016.

The report notes that several factors in the next five years will affect the budget, including an expected 1,250 additional households each year, the rate of inflation and likely increases in the legal minimum wage, which is expected to be more than £9 per hour by 2020.

The DWP meeting was told the partnership was on target to underspend this year by more than £500,000. 

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