DCSIMG

Council grants slashed again

Cllr Ken Atack

Cllr Ken Atack

THE region’s district councils will have to cope with further cuts in government funding in 2013-14 after a new-look local government finance settlement was unveiled by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles last week.

In a dramatic shift in spending power from Whitehall to the town hall, an estimated 70 per cent of council income will now have to be raised locally compared to 56 per cent under the previously operated grant system.

Under the new settlement Cherwell District Council will face a 5.4 per cent cut in its government grant for the 2013/14 financial year.

Cherwell’s current-year grant stands at £7.6 million and the equivalent funding will drop to £7.2 million for 2013/14.

But councillor Ken Atack, Cherwell’s lead member for finance, said the council has been expecting the changes.

“These figures come as no surprise as Mr Pickles publicly warned of a looming financial crisis,” he said.

“We have worked hard at Cherwell to ensure that we had already identified a significant proportion of the necessary savings. We are now considering the options for the remainder.”

South Northamptonshire Coun­cil will face a 11.4 per cent cut in the grant settlement.

The council’s current-year grant stands at £3.9 million and the equivalent funding will drop to £3.45 million for 2013-14.

Councillor Ian McCord, the council’s portfolio holder for resources and change management said: “These figures are at the level of our worst case 2013-14 budget scenario, but come as no surprise as Mr Pickles publicly warned of a looming financial crisis.

“We will now consider options for the savings required and report on these further in January and February 2013.”

He added: “The impact of these cuts can be offset in part on other new funding streams like New Homes Bonus, and vindicates the cautious approach to releasing this money that SNC has taken in recent months despite pressure to spend it.”

Stratford-on-Avon District Council will face more than a seven per cent reduction in its direct grant which equates to around £335,000.

Cllr Chris Saint, leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Coun­cil, said: “We are still working through the figures and have been preparing for a tough settlement from the Government.”

West Oxfordshire District Council has confirmed it will face a five per cent cut in government funding while Daventry District Council, which covers the Woodford Halse and Byfield area, is still analysing its figures.

A document containing 50 practical ways for councils to make savings has been published by the Government.

Mr Pickles said: “Councils must keep doing their bit to tackle the inherited budget deficit because they account for a quarter of all public spending and still get through over £114 billion of taxpayers money each year.”

 

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