BUDGET savings of almost �600,000 were provisionally approved by North Herts district councillors last night (Tuesday).

Among the options being considered are putting more paid advertising in council magazine Outlook and cutting back the outlay on the annual chairman’s reception, in a draft budget for next year approved by Cabinet.

In 2011/12 the council reduced its expenditure by almost �2 million by slashing staffing costs, introducing efficiency savings and increasing its income by hiking up some fees and charges.

The savings were necessary to balance the books after a cut in the central government grant, coupled with rising costs.

In 2012/13, the council’s government grant has been reduced by another �840,000, equal to 14.1 per cent, meaning further savings for the coming year have to be identified.

Around �360,000 of the �590,000 savings identified for 2012/13 have already been achieved either through staff reductions or other cuts.

Cabinet will discuss the finalised budget in the New Year which then has to be approved by full council in February.

Cllr Terry Hone, the council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “We have managed to make very substantial savings in recent years which deliver value for money for residents while minimising the impact on front-line services.

“We will have to deliver savings year on year for the foreseeable future and therefore this year we have continued to examine every avenue for more savings, however small.

“Our ultimate aim is to live within our means while delivering cost-effective services, meaning that in the coming years we will be looking at innovative ways of delivering our services and new ways of working to ensure we continue to successfully meet the challenges ahead.”