CASH for good causes is in the firing line as Dudley Council searches for savings to fill a financial black hole.

The authority is facing tough times and a predicted shortfall of around £10m for the next financial year which will need to be filled with a combination of dipping into reserves and finding savings.

Members of the council’s cabinet are being asked to consider a range of proposed cuts at their meeting on Thursday January 11 which would shave around £7.5m off what the authority spends.

Among the proposals is a plan to remove discretionary grant funding from community forums in a bid to save £240,000.

Each of the council’s 24 wards receives £10,000 per year to be handed out to good causes for the community up to a total of £5,000 in one allocation.

Another community-focused fund under threat is a planned cut of £100,000 for In Bloom floral displays.

Some of the bigger savings for councillors to consider include £510,000 with a redesign of street cleaning and ground maintenance by creating a street scene team.

A total of four customer service advisor jobs in Dudley Council Plus could be lost to save £120,000.

Council finance chiefs are also proposing a review of school catering to save £900,000 while coffers are expected to get a boost of £1.3m with the introduction of new charges for green waste collection.

Conservative councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said: “The council has always had low council tax, amongst the lowest bills in the country, but that has only added to the financial situation we find ourselves in.

“There will undoubtedly be some difficult decisions to make to ensure we can continue to set a sustainable budget and protect essential services.

“But we have to maintain a firmer grip on our finances to avoid these decisions being taken out of our hands if the situation gets worse.”

Councillors will continue to debate the budget for the next year before a final decision is made by the council on March 4.

A public consultation is open for residents to have their say on how funds are spent.

Cllr Harley added: “We really need people to tell us what is important to them so we can set an informed budget that is sustainable. People will remain central to our decision-making.”

The consultation is open until February 16 and can be found on the council’s website.

Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of the Labour opposition group, said: “These are extremely challenging times for all local authorities and raising council tax is unavoidable. 

“We have to remove politics from setting a sustainable budget and concentrate on what is important – running services for local people.”