Councils ‘digest’ budget cuts

The Lincolnshire County Council and City of Lincoln Council said they have to “digest” the cuts in their core central government funding announced on Monday.

The two councils will have to stomach cuts of 2.7% (County) and 7.2% (City) in 2011-2012, and further cuts of 2.6% (County) and 6.1% (City) in 2012-2013.

Budget cuts at the City of Lincoln Council were expected to be around 10% in the first phase, but the authority will still need to make savings.

According to government figures the City of Lincoln Council will have £1.2million less to spend in 2011-2012, and then £890,000 less in 2012-2013.

Lincolnshire County Council will receive £14million less in 2011-2012 in government funds, and £13million less in 2012-2013, according to the same figures.

The County Council’s total government funding next year will total £505million, while the City Council’s core central funding will be of £15.5million.

These figures are smaller than the overall 9.9% cut because they include all other grants and income that councils get, such as council tax and NHS funding.

The biggest cuts in Lincolnshire will hit the Boston Borough Council at 9.9%.

It is unknown at this stage what services from the two councils will be affected by the tighter budgets, as the authorities said it could take them days, if not weeks, to understand the full extent of Monday’s announcements.

These central government budget settlements are provisional, and will be followed by a consultation where the councils can comment on the proposed allowances.

After any changes are made, the final settlement for 2011-2012 will be debated and approved by the House of Commons in the New Year.

Introducing localism

The government also introduced on Monday a Localism Bill, set to become law next summer, whose measures will include among others:

  • Giving local people and organisations the right to buy community assets like shops, pubs and libraries;
  • Powers for people to approve or veto “excessive” council tax rises;
  • People will be able to trigger referendums on any local issue;
  • Neighbourhoods will have the right to permit development in their areas without the need for planning applications.

The City of Lincoln Council said it would be able to comment on these impending reforms later in the week, after analysing the Bill.