COUNCIL bosses say making a further £4million worth of cuts now will lessen the pain ahead and put Dudley Council in a stronger financial position in the future.

The proposed budget for 2014/15, which outlined £9.5million worth of savings to be made, was approved by Dudley Council’s cabinet in March.

But when members met again last night (Thursday July 3), they agreed to recommend to council that this year's budget be amended to accommodate a further £4million in savings, bringing the total to £13.5million.

The cash will help to bridge the predicted funding gap between income and expenditure for 2017.

Leader of the council, Cllr David Sparks said: "The essential point is that the £4million comes from different parts of the council and has been identified by officers and cabinet members as areas where we will need to cut back."

But leader of the opposition, Cllr Patrick Harley, said the additional cut backs were unnecessary: "They are telling us that the council is a lot better off than we were when they set the budget in March but they are bringing forward £4million of cuts. It's absolutely bizarre, if we are in a better situation, to heap more misery on Dudley residents is ludicrous."

Defending the decision, Cllr Sparks said the additional savings did have to be made as the council strives to save £32million over the next few years.

He said: "By law, Dudley Council, like all local authorities has to provide a reasonable financial plan over a three year period to match the government's own spending predictions.

"We know that Dudley will face a gap of expenditure of around £30m between income and expenditure in three years time. In order for us to balance the books we have to find savings. We have recently had an exercise within the council of seeing where we can make economies and this has resulted in approximately £4m worth of additional savings.

"This shows that we are acting responsibly and are determined to do everything possible to maintain our reputation for being a low cost, efficient local authority."