Councils speak out on ‘tough’ budget cuts

The Lincolnshire County Council and the City of Lincoln Council revealed that their budget cuts will be deeper than previously reported, when taking out the NHS funding and council tax revenue from the grant formula.

The Department for Communities and Local Government sugar-coated the total amount of money local councils will actually receive in the next two years.

However, the County and City councils said on Tuesday that the cuts they will have to face are larger than what the Government announced publicly.

The Lincolnshire County Council says it will have a 11.2% reduction to the funding from government grants in 2011-2012, and a further 6.8% in 2012-2013.

The County Council’s total cuts over the next two years equate to £42.8million, a cash reduction of 18%.

The City of Lincoln Council said its grant will decrease by 13.8% in 2011-2012, and by a further 10.5% in 2011-2012.

This amounts to £2.15million over two years, or 24.3% — almost a quarter of the City of Lincoln Council’s total grant from government.

Over the past two years the City Council had its own review of services as a result of the last grant settlement, achieving around £2.5 million worth of savings.

The cuts announced on Monday are in addition to this new savings challenge the council is now faced with.

The councils will publish their draft budgets in January, with the final budget for 2011-2012 being put up for final approval in March 2011.

Speaking of budget cuts

“It is a tough settlement, which will mean some services will have to be reduced and some may be stopped altogether,” said the County Council’s Leader Martin Hill.

“These are the difficult decisions that councillors are facing as we look to prioritise services and allocate this money.

“We know there will be cuts to services and there will be some job losses.

“We shall also continue our ongoing efficiency measures to minimise the impact as far as we can on frontline services.

“We have already entered into shared service arrangements with other councils and outsourced many services in order to reduce our costs,” Hill added.

“Although the grant settlement is tough, we are in a strong position to manage these changes and have a good track record for dealing with difficult financial decisions,” said City of Lincoln Council Deputy Leader Marc Jones.

“This is going to be a very challenging period for everyone working in the public sector, but we must take the lead to deliver the savings required and make the best decisions in difficult circumstances.”

Andrew Taylor, the Chief Executive at the City of Lincoln Council said the grant settlement is in line with the council’s original estimates.

“We are currently undergoing a series of reviews of our systems that we are confident will increase efficiency and make savings in some services.

“In other areas we will make changes to our day-to-day business to make sensible savings.

“To meet these very challenging targets we will also need to explore how we deliver services across the whole organisation,” Taylor added.