SOME job losses are possible at Dorset Council during the year as the authority tries to balance its books.

The man in charge of the council’s coffers says any changes in service delivery levels are not likely to result in widespread job losses and the number of post shed, if any, will be limited.

Said executive director for finance Aidan Dunn: “some service changes will impact on staff numbers but there will be no requirement for a wholesale redundancy programme.”

His comments came during a scrutiny committee discussion on Thursday about the council’s budget for the coming financial year - with the authority currently proposing an increase in council tax of just under four per cent, half of it to bolster the social care budget.

Councillors were told that it would be a tough year ahead with the authority facing inflationary costs, additional demand for many services and most pay awards already coming in at double the amount the council had anticipated.

Some of the expected gaps in funding will have to be made up by increased council tax and rises in fees and charges as well as long-term transformational changes to the way the council operates, along with shorter term tactical savings.

Councillors were told that costs of materials have been rising at 20-30per cent and, until recently fuel costs had also been increasing – a significant sum when the council’s vans, lorries and buses between them can use up to a quarter of a million litres of fuel every month, although in the most recent full month’s figure, for November, it was down to 185,000 litres.

On top of the rise in council tax the council is expecting to impose an average 5per cent increase in its fees, more in some areas, including raising an additional £1.3million in the year from an uplift in public car park charges.

Dorchester councillor Andy Canning called for a delay in increasing car parking rates until the service was seen to be running well. He said that at the moment many payment machines were not working, the parking app’ was unable to function in many areas because of a poor phone signal and too many car parks were without lighting and had damaged surfaces.

“It’s difficult justify increases in charges when the service has been as poor as it had been,” said Cllr Canning.

But portfolio holder for the service, Ray Bryan, said holding off any increase was not an option because the council needed the money and already had 260 new parking machines on order, with more to come.

He claimed that compared to other authorities the council's car parking charges were good value for money, pointing out that it was £7 to £8 higher for a day's parking in neighbouring Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Finance director Mr Dunn said that the council was relying on an extra £4.4m in its budget plan from additional charges in all areas and, in addition, would still have to make £11million in efficiency savings during the year, while also committing £8.2million from a contingency budget to help meet the day to day costs of running the council.

He said that to do nothing would mean the council’s shortfall would only grow – from a predicted £13.8m in 24/25 to £41.2 in 2028/29