Councils face massive spending cuts

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COUNCILS are counting the cost after the full extent of the Government’s spending cuts was revealed.

South Kesteven District Council is losing £1.9m next year of its annual grant from the Government, a decrease of 18.3 per cent.

Lincolnshire County Council is facing a £26.7m loss in its grant, which represents an 11.2 per cent reduction.

Government figures are much lower than this, saying the district council will lose 6.8 per cent and the county council lose 2.7 per cent.

But the two councils say they don’t show the full picture. They say Whitehall’s figures take into account a proposed grant to compensate for loss of income from a freeze on council tax and assumed levels of spending by the NHS on social care in the area.

District council leader Linda Neal (Con) said: “Like all district councils, we are facing significant cuts but we must keep these figures in perspective because although this is a significant reduction, it is within what we had planned for.”

South Kesteven’s chief executive Beverly Agass said the council had been “pro-actively planning” for the announcement and was “reasonably well placed” to deal with it.

She said: “We will, of course, continue to focus on value for money and will seek further efficiencies while continuing to deliver front line services. This has always been our position and we remain on track to do this.”

The Government funding to the district council is being reduced from £10.14m this year to £8.29m in 2011/12 and it will be reduced further to £7.37m the following year . Over two years, this is a reduction of 27.3 per cent.

To cut costs, the district council has reduced staff. It has also made £300,000 of efficiency savings.

The county council says it faces a further reduction of £16.1m in 2012/13, which over the two years is a reduction of 18 per cent. It will annouce on Monday where some of the cuts will be made.

County council leader Martin Hill (Con) said it was working to minimise the impact on frontline services. He said: “It is a tough settlement which will mean some services will have to be reduced and some may be stopped altogether.

“Some may be delivered in a different way. These are the difficult decisions that councillors are facing as we look to prioritise services and allocate this money .”

He said the council was looking at shared service arrangements with other councils or outsourcing services.

Lincolnshire Police has been told its grant will be reduced by £3.6m, a reduction of 5.1 per cent but chairman of the police authority Barry Young said the full picture would not be known until the new year when more news on grants is announced.

Rutland County Council has had its funding cut from £9.39mto £8.04m, a reduction of 14.3 per cent.

County council leader Roger Begy (Con) said this was worse than expected but work had already started on finding the extra savings.

Coun Begy said: “At the moment it does look worse than we thought but at least now we have got more details, we can prepare.

“We will be working hard over Christmas to look at where we can make additional savings and we are doing everything we can to ensure we focus expenditure on services that people want maintaining.”

Government figures claim the council will only lose 2.18 per cent of its budget.

Peterborough City Council is losing £8.9m next year and East Northamptonshire District Council is down from £6.3m to £5.4m.