MONMOUTHSHIRE council is estimating a £15 million funding gap over the next four years.

A report on the medium term financial plan, which went before members of the local authority’s cabinet last week, suggested “substantial savings”

will have to be made due to a shortfall in local government funding expected over the next few years.

It estimated there will be a funding gap of £3 million next year, which could rise to £5 million, depending on financial pressures, and up to £15 million longer-term.

The council plans to work in all areas to close the gap through efficiencies, doing things in different ways and using reserves to help out.

Allowances totalling £816,668 were paid across Monmouthshire’s county councillors in 2010-11.

“We need to do things differently going forward if we are to survive these difficult times,”

said council leader Peter Fox.

“Fundamental change is needed to both the way local services are funded and organised and citizen expectations of what councils provide,” the report said.

The council expects the £79.5 million bid around 21st century schools, with match funding of £40 million, will dominate plans for a number of years.

Cllr Fox said throughout the tough times the council’s priorities surrounding education, protecting the vulnerable and supporting economic development will be maintained.

Cllr Roger Harris, leader of Monmouthshire’s Labour group, said cuts are “inevitable”.

“We obviously have to be more effective and we can do that without upsetting staff too much or the taxpayer,” Cllr Harris said.

The financial plan assumed no increase in council tax, which will be considered in more detail later in the year.