Cuts see £96m wiped off Yorkshire councils

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles
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THE last year of coalition council cuts will see at least £96.6m axed from council budgets.

Another round of spending cuts announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sees all but two Yorkshire councils, North Yorkshire and York, losing out.

In Sheffield alone the budget cut is worth at least £21.5m, with Leeds losing £15m and Doncaster seeing nearly £8m axed.

The cuts figure is almost certain to rise in the coming days, as the Communities Secretary insists on releasing only an initial “spending power” change in which the blow is softened by including over department’s cash, such as local NHS funds.

Announcing the settlement in the House of Commons, local government minister Kris Hopkins said that the reduction would leave councils with “considerable total spending power”.

The 1.8% cut - first pencilled in last year - was lower than in 2014/15 and one of the lowest since the coalition came to power in 2010, said Mr Hopkins. No council will face a loss in spending power of more than 6.4%.

Mr Hopkins described the settlement as “fair for all parts of the country, whether North or South, urban or rural”.

The bulk of local authorities’ spending power comes from grants from central government, with around a quarter raised from council tax.

Warnings have already been sounded over the difficulty in carrying out a fifth round of annual cuts.

Graeme McDonald, director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE), said: “This settlement reminds us that the financial challenge facing local government is immense. Cuts of up to 6.4% will push some authorities to breaking point.

“Government is beginning to recognise that councils have led the way on deficit reduction, but with cuts and demand increasing, fragility is beginning to show. The financial future of local services is unsustainable without a more ambitious plan for public service reform.”