Warning over future of councils as latest cutbacks confirmed

THE leader of a rebel Yorkshire council has painted a bleak future for local government as it was confirmed hundreds of jobs will be lost and tens of millions of pounds slashed from budgets over the next two years.

York Council will impose a 1.9 per cent council tax increase in the new financial year after once again turning down the offer of a grant from Westminster aimed at preventing any rises. The move will mean an average increase of 38p per week for the city’s residents, and comes after a 2.9 per cent council tax rise in York for this financial year despite the Government’s attempts to impose freezes nationally.

Doncaster Council also confirmed yesterday that 313 “full-time equivalent” jobs will be lost as it slashed £26m from its budgets. Major cuts proposed as part of a draft budget include closing three of Doncaster’s 21 children’s centres, increasing home care fees for the elderly and a hike in parking charges and council rents.

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A further 240 jobs will be lost at York Council over the next two financial years as savings totalling £20m are enforced. The council is due to have lost 488 posts in the five years up until March 31, 2015.

York Council’s Labour leader, Coun James Alexander, re-iterated a warning that councils could face bankruptcy amid fears the Government’s austerity drive is unsustainable.

He said: “I simply say to the Government – we don’t want to raise council tax. Please, give us a sustainable financial settlement, not short-term gimmicks. Any political problems we may face as a result of raising council tax are nothing when compared to the problems our most vulnerable residents would face if we could not adequately fund social care services any longer.”

The draft budget, which is set to be approved this month, will see car parking fees in York rise by up to 20p an hour, and £1m cut from the City and Environmental Services directorate as management numbers are slashed from 14 to just seven.