FLOODING schemes and park and ride services are set to be cut as moves to make £18 million in savings continues. 

Leader of Somerset County Council, David Fothergill, said cuts had to be made and services 'reviewed' as the authority simply 'cannot afford it'.

Councillors met yesterday morning (Wednesday, July 19), to discuss progress on £7m of back-office savings, part of a move to cut £18m from budgets to meet a drop in funding from central government. 

According to the council, the funding from government is down by around £16m and is due to fall a further £10m next year. 

Beyond the back office savings, other schemes are in place to save money, including "efficiencies" in a new highways maintenance contract, providing mental health accommodation in mainstream accommodation, fewer people using consessionary bus passes, and reducing the cost of children's placements. 

But other services are set to lose out in the fresh round of cuts.

The council will reduce spend on agency and temporary staff (saving £320,000), reduce spend on small-scale flood mitigation schemes (saving £140,000) which mainly includes highways, and withdraw the Saturday Park and Ride services in Taunton (£50,000) starting the autumn. 

However, the SCC has said that the park and ride service will be flexible to reopen for major events such as late-night shopping. 

Changes to learning disability placements and support packages are also being reviewed to ensure people can be independent in their own homes wherever possible. 

The council said the aim is to provide "better outcomes" while "spending less". 

Cllr Fothergill said: “We are making progress in what are very difficult times for local authorities across the country.

“In many cases, these savings are coming from further efficiencies, better contracting and doing things differently.

“In other cases it’s about giving the right kind of support and focusing more than ever on what the outcomes are for the people who receive our services.

"By looking at the support we provide and doing things differently, you can do the right thing and spend less money in many instances." 

The council says around 120 posts have gone from the council as a result of the savings so far, many through voluntary redundancy and closing vacant posts. 

The authority says it is making use of apprentices where possible, with 50 already in place and a further 40 expected this year. 

Cllr Fothergill also announced that the council will be holding consultations in the autumn to redesign the library services. 

The Library Service is developing a three-year plan to manage budget reductions. 

The council’s early help support to families is currently delivered through the getset service.

Proposals, which the council expects to start consulting on within the next couple of months, will seek to create Family Hubs.

These will integrate health services with other early help and provide more targeted support to families who need it most through outreach and in community venues, rather than some of the existing buildings.

Cllr Fothergill added: “We cannot continue running many of our services as we do now. We cannot afford it. 

"We have lost more than £100m in revenue over the past few years.

"We have to change. We have to adapt. We have to live within our means."