11:30am Friday 21st December 2012
By Harry Hogger
COUNCILS say further cuts imposed by central government are ‘as bad as we were expecting’.
Local authorities have been picking over the consequences of the implications of reduced government grant settlements as they prepare their budgets for the 2013/14 financial year.
Dorset County Council, which is preparing to find £14.5m of savings next year, says the settlement is largely what was expected.
The council also confirmed that the settlement will not affect plans to freeze council tax for next year.
Leader Angus Campbell said: “Our grant settlement from the government is largely what we had expected and planned for.
“We recognise that these are challenging times for everybody and we will be recommending to our full council that we freeze council tax for the third year running in 2013/14.”
Both Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and West Dorset District Council also claimed the settlements they received were broadly along the lines of what they were expecting.
West Dorset saw its grant reduced by 6.36 per cent or £380,509 while Weymouth and Portland saw a 10.45 per cent reduction of £418,692.
West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould said: “We are still analysing the details of the government settlement but early indications are that it is in line with our expectations of a further cut in our funding.
“The district council is in a strong position to cope with these ongoing reductions without cutting services because of our pioneering partnership with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. We will be making even more savings in 2013 thanks to our move to smaller, greener and cheaper to run offices.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council management committee chairman Mike Goodman said: “It is about as bad as we were expecting. Therefore, there is no need for us to change the recommendations for savings that are in the draft budget proposals. We can also confirm that the limited offer to us to freeze our part of the council tax is not generous enough to support that option.”
Despite the councils claiming the settlements went along with expectations, the Rural Services Network – a group of more than 200 organisations working to improve rural services in England – claims that councils outside urban areas have not been dealt a fair bargain.
Chief executive Graham Biggs said: “This is a body blow for rural councils already struggling to provide services to countryside communities. Even before these reductions, urban areas received about half as much more funding per head than rural areas.”
A COUNTY councillor says it is time to stand up and speak out about continued cuts to local government funding.
Karl Wallace, from Bridport, said a message needs to go back to government that the time has come to stop the cuts.
He said: “These cuts are coming in so fast, the government is doing it again and again and it is going to have long term effects on the local economy.
“People are going to have less money to spend and people are going to lose their jobs. It’s not going to shorten the recession it’s going to make it longer.”
Coun Wallace said he wants to organise a public meeting and invited West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin so people can make
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