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Thursday, 27 January 2011

National Park responds to grant cut

The New Forest National Park Authority plans a wide-ranging package of measures to respond to the 21.5% cut in its government grant over the next four years which was announced in December last year.

The proposals are a mixture of budget savings, use of reserves, new ways of working, restructuring and improved income generation.

Chairman, Julian Johnson, said: ‘The scale of the savings we need to make to balance our budget is significant: our grant reduces from just over £4m this year to £3.16m by 2014 – a cut of £866,000 or £217,000 a year.  This comes on top of the 5% saving we had to make within this financial year and does not include the impact of inflation and the loss of other grants.

‘Nevertheless we have approached this challenge positively, carefully considering all the ways in which we could address the issues and coming up with a plan that uses a range of measures.  In doing this we have worked hard to safeguard our ability to deliver benefits in and for the New Forest and to minimise the need for redundancies.’

Key features of the plan include:
  • Substantial savings through sharing office accommodation with New Forest District Council and reduced central and support costs
  • Salary savings – a mixture of not filling vacant posts, reduced working hours, voluntary redundancy, centralised administration, sharing services and the loss of around 10 posts
  • A greater focus on generating income to support the National Park Authority’s work in delivering projects into the Forest
  • A reduction from three departments to two with a flatter structure allowing more of the Authority’s limited resources to be focused on delivering in and for the Forest

Alison Barnes said: ‘Although this has been a difficult time for everyone, I am confident that our response will put us in the strongest position possible to work with people across the Forest to meet the challenges ahead.’

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