16 Dec 2010

Stroud faces one of worst cuts in UK

The Local Government Association has labeled the proposed cuts the "toughest in living memory". The devil is in the detail but it is emerging that Stroud has been hit very hard by the Government's announcement. I am off to the Council chamber tonight but wanted to get an initial comment out....

Photos: more shots taken locally in recent frosty/snow

At this stage, the main points are;

  • The Government is cutting its support to us harder and faster than anticipated - Stroud's provisional settlement is one of the worst in England
  • We currently receive £7.184m. The Government has removed the concessionary fare element and recalculated our base for the current year as £6.546m.
  • It has then applied a 16.8% cut for 2011/12 - the largest percentage cut nationally
  • It has applied a further cut of 13.5% for 2012/13 - the largest percentage cut nationally

So our Government funding reduces from £6.546m to £4.673m over the two years; a reduction of £1.874m. We are faced with a 28.6% cut over two years rather than four years. The Government has 'front loaded' the cuts more than anyone expected. The Government has not given any indication for 2013/14 and 2014/15 in its announcement.

Stroud District will be looking at their budget plan over the next few days. I understand that provided we keep to othe workforce plan and deliver the budget/efficiency savings identified, then we should be able to set a balanced budget for 2011/12. However, the challenge for future years is very clear. More work is needed. The Cabinet will consider the position on 6th January 2011.

In Stroud over 6,200 workers ie 14% of the population are public sector workers. I have not seen the Glos County details yet.

This is indeed bad news. The national press is also pointing to real concerns about the cuts. The Guardian reports 100,000 workers could receive redundancy warning letters over Christmas. This comes on top of the 33,000 drop in public sector jobs over the three months to October that was detailed yesterday in official unemployment data and is likely to lead to a torrent of "at risk" warning letters hitting doormats across the country in the next few weeks. The Local Government Association estimate up to 140,000 will loose jobs (see their report here) - costing a fortune in redundancy costs and benefit payments and significant social costs....and of course the knock on effect on the private sector.

Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, today allocated a last-minute emergency £85m fund in an attempt to insulate the poorest areas from the worst cuts next year. But despite his efforts there is huge criticisms that this does not go far enough. It is clear Councils are completely powerless to protect frontline services from a wave of library, social services and leisure centre closures.

"It's clearly shifting resources from relatively deprived inner-city areas towards more affluent shires. It's certainly going to be hard for government to describe it as progressive." Tony Travers, local government expert at the LSE
The poorest neighbourhoods will be hardest hit while the better-off will do best as a result of the choices the coalition government is making.

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