EFFORTS will be made to protect front-line services as Mid Devon District Council works out how to deal with a £775,000 cut to its Government funding over the next two years.

The reduction, coupled with a £1.5million cut over the previous two years, means the authority will have seen an overall 40% slash in Whitehall funding in the four years from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

Next year’s grant will be cut by £154,000, while a further £621,000 will be clawed back in 2014-15.

Councillors stress that they will work to protect frontline services and promote economic regeneration despite the reduction in the grants, which currently make up just under half the authority’s total annual income, the rest coming mostly from council tax. A package of further cuts is now in the pipeline and will be discussed by members over a series of meetings in the New Year. Measures including a reduction in managerial posts have already saved the authority £1.5million in the past two years.

The installation of solar panels on one-third of the council’s housing stock and all its corporate buildings has reduced costs, while its three leisure centres in Tiverton, Crediton and Cullomp-ton are now operating around £250,000 cheaper than before, largely due to increased income from users.

Most recently, motorists have been offered the convenience of using a new cashless payment option in all the council’s pay and display car parks, which is also hoped to generate further income.

Cllr Neal Davey, the district council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “This is a very tough two-year financial settlement, but our priority will be to continue to protect frontline services and promote economic regeneration in Mid Devon.

“We’re working on plans to make further savings and increase income where we can to offset these further reductions in our Government grant.”