Councils prepare for funding cuts
A LACK of funds is causing councils across Comet country a financial headache. MP for Stevenage, Barbara Follett, the local government minister, announced last week that English councils will get a four per cent funding increase for next year, but Stevena
A LACK of funds is causing councils across Comet country a financial headache.
MP for Stevenage, Barbara Follett, the local government minister, announced last week that English councils will get a four per cent funding increase for next year, but Stevenage Borough Council's increase in Government grant will be just 0.5 per cent.
Scott Crudgington, strategic director at the council, said the increase is the last part of their three year settlement, but Lib Dem councillor, Robin Parker, has warned that "it is not enough" and that the council is consequently "going to have to make efficiency savings".
Mr Crudgington said: "This increase is in line with the council's financial assumptions and is being used in preparing the budget for 2010/11. Final decisions on the budget and council tax will not be taken until February 24, 2010."
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Central Beds Council (CBC) looks set to axe management jobs, with a report going to next week's executive aiming for a 20 per cent reduction in senior management overheads. Conservative councillor, Tricia Turner, leader of CBC, said: "Our new chief executive, Richard Carr, is confident a wider restructuring of senior management can achieve these savings."
But Lib Dem councillor, Peter Blaine, leader of the opposition at CBC, said: "Getting rid of some members of senior management will not be the last of the bloodletting. The council has got to make substantial savings to keep to its budget.
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"The council intends to review school transport and when any details are made public it will cause a large number of objections and it will be very difficult for the council."
He added: "We are having difficulty keeping within budget and there has been significant overspends in two areas - adult social services which is a very substantial �4m and children's services of �2.3m."
North Herts District Council has forecast next year's budget on the basis of a provisional 2.3 per cent rise in Government funding and a 1.5 per cent rise in council tax.
The council is expected to receive �8.7m from the Government in the next financial year and raise �9.8m in council tax. But this will leave a hole in the budget of �1.3m.
To plug the gap, council finance chiefs are looking to cut �400,000 a year by restructuring jobs at the council offices in Letchworth GC and save a further �300,000 by redirecting the district's waste.
Revenues could be increased by hitting drivers with a possible �330,000 in parking hikes and pocketing over �17,000 from the bereaved by putting up burial costs.
Opposition leader for the Lib Dems, Steve Jarvis, said: "Although a 1.5 per cent increase in council tax does not seem a lot, many people will not see their income rise this year. It is more than is desirable in the present circumstances and we will be looking at other ways of saving money.