Council cuts likely as government funding is slashed

Luton Town Hall
Luton Town Hall

Public services in Luton and across Central Bedfordshire have been placed at further risk of cutbacks after the government announced huge slashes to local funding.

On average councils across England will see the amount they receive from the government drop by 8.8% next year, though local government minister Kris Hopkins says ‘spending power’ will only fall by 1.8% on average.

Central Beds Council has seen its share slashed by £6m (8%), amounting to almost a 40% reduction in government funding over the last four years.

Luton Borough Council has said it will not yet disclose how the announcement has impacted on the authority, as there are further financial matters to be confirmed.

However the council’s ‘spending power’ is said to have been reduced by 2.9%.

An LBC spokesperson added: “The DCLG announcements do not include the education services grant, or the new burdens funding in relation to extra duties on local authorities to look after children in care for longer.

“Until we have the information on those grants, we cannot make a fully informed comment on the settlement overall.

“Under the government’s definition of spending power, the average reduction for authorities is 1.8%.

“Luton’s spending power reduction is stated to be 2.9%, so the council’s reduction is significantly above the average.”

CBC leader James Jamieson told the News/Gazette that there would be no “last minute salami slicing” from his council’s 2015 budget.

Cllr Jamieson added: “It is very challenging but we have put plans in place to avoid raising council tax and to safeguard frontline services...we are confident we can do this.

“It is becoming more challenging and there are further reductions in funding expected irrespective of which party will be in after the general election.

“It is really hard work but staff and officers have done well to get us to where we do not need to raise council tax.”

CBC’s draft 2015-16 budget will be debated by council members in mid January.