Outcry as council faces another cut in funding

By Ian Dipple Friday 03 January 2014 Updated: 06/01 11:29

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CONTINUED cuts to council funding have been branded ‘unsustainable’ by the leader of Redditch Borough Council.

The warning follows details of the council’s government funding settlement for the next two years which revealed Redditch will see deeper cuts to its spending power than anywhere else in Worcestershire.

Between 2014 and 2016 the council will see the money it has to spend on services fall by seven per cent to £9.7million.

It means since the start of the Government’s austerity drive in 2010 the council’s government funding will have fallen by 41 per cent to just over £3.5million. It leaves council bosses with some £1.8million to find to balance the books next year.

The Government argues when coupled with other sources of income, the borough council’s spending power will only drop by about £20 per household, although council chiefs point out that is the equivalent of a ten per cent rise in their portion of the council tax bill.

Council leader Bill Hartnett said through sharing services with neighbouring Bromsgrove District Council they were better placed to deal with the cuts, but it was clear the situation could not continue long-term.

“It wasn’t fair last year and it’s not fair this year,” he said.

“They can’t keep going on like this, it’s unsustainable and they can’t continue this way.

“As a council we are still investing in services which is why when we took control we brought free swimming and the bus passes back and that’s been a great success.

“We will have to review the budget but our hope is to protect all the services we have got, particularly frontline services.”

Worcestershire County Council will see its spending power fall by over £5million in 2014/15 but its revenue budget will rise the year after to over £380million, although this is due to the fact it will receive money from the NHS to join up health and social care services.

Council leader Adrian Hardman said the settlements were broadly in line with expectations and would not alter previously released plans to save over £98million by 2017.

He added they were well placed to meet the financial challenge they faced but refused to rule out continuing with plans to raise council tax from April, despite the Government pledging additional funds to those authorities that kept bills on hold.

“We will wait to see what the Government offers us before any proposal is put forward to our Cabinet.”

Redditch Borough Council has also not indicated whether or not it will accept the council tax freeze.

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