Council funding deal branded 'unjust'

By Ian Dipple Thursday 27 December 2012 Updated: 02/01 10:41

BOROUGH council chiefs say they are being unfairly penalised after being handed the biggest cut in government funding next year out of any council in Worcestershire.

Council leader Bill Hartnett described the settlement as unjust after it was revealed Redditch Borough Council would see its grant fall by 2.7 per cent from April 2013.

It was worse than Town Hall chiefs feared and will leave them having to find another £150,000 in savings on top of those already identified. Further falls in funding are also expected next year.

In comparison neighbouring Bromsgrove District Council will see its government grant fall by 1.3 per cent and Worcester City Council's will rise by 0.2 per cent.

The Department of Communities and Local Government released a list of 50 ways councils could save money along with the funding figures, which include sharing back office functions, reducing senior management posts and pay and cutting down on waste.

But Coun Hartnett said they were already doing a lot of what the Government asked of them and would try to challenge the decision.

"We are very disappointed and officers at the council don't know what we have done to deserve this. We are sharing services, which is what the Government wants us to do, we are delivering efficiency savings year on year and this is very unfair and unjust," he said.

"We don't know what else we can be doing. If you look at the profile of Redditch we have got more people who will need the support of the services when compared with the profile of other local authorities in the locality."

Coun Hartnett added despite the setback they remained committed to introducing free pre-9.30am bus passes for the elderly and disabled and would retain free swimming in the borough.

Worcestershire County Council has seen its grant fall by 2.4 per cent but leader Adrian Hardman said it was in line with what they had expected.

"We expected the support from Goverment would be cut by about £10 million and we expect it to be slightly less than that," he said.

"Looking further on we know the lift gets heavier in years to come. We are extremely well prepared with a long-term plan and a medium-term plan we will be sticking to."

Stratford District Council expects its funding to fall by seven per cent next year, about £335,000, but once other funding is added in such as extra money for building new homes, its grant will rise by 0.4 per cent with a 1.7 per cent reduction in 2014/15.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said councils were expected to do their bit to tackle the country's budget deficit and if they put their thinking caps on could cut waste, transform services and prepare for the future.

"The announcement is a fair funding deal that will reward councils ready to strive for their communities and gives them another year to get their house in order."

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