Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Swingeing Cuts to Council Services Ahead as Tory Cuts to Funding Bite

Councillor Richard Newman-Thompson says that in the face of more funding cuts, the City Council is "in an almost impossible position"
Lancaster City Council's Cabinet has proposed plans to save £2.8 million annually over the next few years, as part of action plan to tackle a £5.6million funding gap by 2020.

If approved by Full Council the plans which include cuts to CCTV provision, an end to Lancaster's role in the Youth Games, reviews of arts funding and the continued support of the Cottage and Maritime Museum, will see huge changes to the services delivered by the city council.

New charges will be brought in and some services discontinued as the council looks to balance the books in the wake of further Government cuts which are facing rapidly-escalting opposition from councils across the country, including some that are Tory-led.

Proposals in the budget plans include

• Cuts to CCTV provision
• A review of the future of both the Cottage and Martime Museums
• Another review of local art funding
• Backing out of the popular Youth Games from next year
• Charging for admission to the Splash Park
• More cuts to the remaining public toilet facilities (many have already been lost)
• Charging Parish Councils for the costs of running local elections by 2019/2020
• Handing back control of community pols to the County Council (which would make their fate uncertain)

In the current financial year (to March 2016) the council will receive £9 million in funding from the Government. This falls to £7.9 million in 2016/17 and £6.9million in 2017/18. By 2020, it is expected to fall to around £5.9million.

A number of reviews will also be set in motion to determine how the council can save the remaining £2.8 million it needs to find between 2018 and 2020.

The savings come on top of almost £5m savings that have already been made since 2010.

Councillor Richard Newman-Thompson, Cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said: “We find ourselves in an almost impossible position and are faced with decisions that we would prefer not to have to make. But with relentless cutbacks by the Government we have been effectively forced to cut services and bring in higher charges.

“We don’t want to do this and while we will do our best to limit the impact on our communities, the reality is that we have to find the savings from somewhere.

“Over the last five years the council has been able to make many savings by restructuring and changing the way it delivers services and becoming more efficient.

“That will only take you so far and there comes a point where there just isn’t enough money to continue running the services you want. We’re at that point now.”

Cabinet will present its draft budget for 2016/17 onwards for initial consideration by Council on Wednesday 3rd February 2016.

At that meeting, it will also seek a decision to increase City Council tax by 1.99%, in line with previous years.

Final approval for the budget will go to Full Council on Wednesday 2nd March 2016.

View more information on Cabinet’s proposed budget

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