Cash-strapped Hastings council underspends by £600k

PENNY-pinching at Hastings Borough Council has saved the cash-strapped authority £616,000 in the last year - despite spending £426,000 on making staff redundant.

The local authority published a financial report last week which showed it had underspent on its budget by more than £500,000.

Early this year the council’s leader, Councillor Jeremy Birch, publicly hit out at the borough’s settlement from Government, saying the town had been put in ‘the Premier League of cuts’.

And the need for the town hall to cut its cloth accordingly was reflected in its last budget.

But during a recent meeting Cllr Birch was full of praise for the way frugal staff had adapted to the situation and managed to spend less than planned.

Predictably he blamed the current Coalition for the financial constraints placed on the authority but did reveal there was significant cash left over to put away for a rainy day.

Cllr Birch said a small amount would be added to the authority’s reserves, taking the total kept aside to £3.86 million.

And he warned: “We have serious challenges ahead and this is a good a position as we could be in allowing for the settlement we received.”

The Conservatives on the council joined Cllr Birch in thanking staff, with Cllr Beaver saying: “Everyone at the council should be thanked for contributing to this.”

However, Cllr Birch finished by warning: “If there are departments which have underspent and can do their job with less staff, then that will help shape our next budget.”