Council spending ‘cut by 6.4 per cent’

PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Labour Leader of Preston Council, Councillor Peter Rankin
PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Labour Leader of Preston Council, Councillor Peter Rankin
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The ‘biggest shake-up in local finance in a generation’ will see Preston Council have its total spending power cut by to 6.4 per cent over the next year.

Government bosses announced yesterday that spending power for councils would be cut by an average of 1.7 per cent with a ‘small number’ of local authorities needing larger savings.

Town Hall bosses are today going through what that cut will mean for Preston.

Meanwhile, Lancashire County Council will have its overall spending cut by 2.2 per cent, South Ribble Council by 2.1 per cent, and Lancaster Council by 2.2 per cent.

Chorley Council will be better off, with a rise in their overall spending power next year of 1.4 per cent.

Preston Council leader Coun Peter Rankin said: “We are still going through the details of the settlements and what it means for Preston.

“Cuts to government funding were widely expected but until we have got all the details it is difficult to fully appreciate what this means for us.

“The cabinet has been and is continuing to work on a budget that is the best possible budget for the city, and for local taxpayers.”

Meanwhile Lancashire County Council said figures were ‘in line with forecasts’, and a lot had already been done to make savings.

County treasurer Gill Kilpatrick said: “We are still working through the detail, but the settlement appears to be in line with our forecasts.

“The county council set a three year budget strategy in 2011 which has enabled us to plan for reductions in our resources, and we are now reaping the benefits of that approach.

“It means we continue to be in a very challenging position but it is one we have planned for.

“Our employees have been working very hard to deliver substantial savings in a way that minimises the impact on the most vulnerable members of Lancashire’s communities who rely on our front line services, and that work will continue in earnest.”

Meanwhile, Coun Stephen Robinson, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for finance and resources, said: “We are still looking at the full details of the grant settlement announced by the Government, so it’s too early to comment on what it will mean for the council.

“We have been working on our budget plans for 2013-14 throughout this year and have been working hard to identify further savings while protecting the delivery of our front-line services.”

Making the announcement yesterday, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the settlements represented a ‘bargain’ for local authorities.

Meanwhile, Heather Wakefield, UNISON’s head of local government, said: “Local councils are already under the Government’s financial cosh and yesterday’s cuts will push many more vital services over the edge.

“Eric Pickles needs to get into the real world. Around the country libraries, day centres, and youth clubs are closing, care is being rationed as eligibility criteria become ever tighter, and young people find careers advice has all but disappeared.”