Thursday, 26 September 2013

Lancaster City Council warns: Serious Service Cuts ahead

Council leader Eileen Blamire says Council on "cliff edge"
as it faces further budget cuts
Lancaster City Council is facing a bleak financial future with £3.5million in savings needing to be found over the next two years to balance its books, new figures show.

Following the Government’s announcement that funding for local government will fall by a further 10 per cent, which translates into a further 15.3% reduction for Lancaster District, savings targets have been revised and will be reported to the city council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 8th October.

They show that for 2014/15 the council will have to find recurring savings of £1.2million, with a further £2.3million having to be found for 2015/16.

This is in addition to the savings the council has had to find over the last three years, which has already seen the Government cut 27 per cent of its funding.

Cabinet will be asked to set out an approach to identify the savings needed, which would see up to £1million being made by restructuring, streamlining and ‘cutting corners’.

The remaining £2.5 million can only be made through withdrawing or significantly reducing services.

In the budget report submitted for discussion, the report notes that "Government is proposing fairly fundamental changes to previous funding arrangements and this is of real concern. It does not help promote sound planning and decision-making."

Further funding cuts mean councils nationally will need to draw on their balances and reserves to tackle the challenges ahead.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “As these new figures show the council is closer to the cliff edge than ever before in terms of its budget.

“Although the economy is starting to pick up, the Government seems determined to reduce our funding even further and that can only translate into real cuts to our services.

“Over the coming months, the council will develop its future budget plans further and put in place plans for how we are going to find these savings.

“Although every effort will continue to be made to deliver savings whilst protecting the frontline, it is inevitable that we will have to  make  service cuts to balance our books.  Savings of the size we now face simply cannot be made through efficiencies .

“Many of the decisions will be tough and unpalatable to many but they will have to be made.”

The savings targets have been developed through information from the Government following its Comprehensive Spending Review in the summer and briefings from the Local Government Association.

The final figures for how much the council will receive in funding from the Government will be announced in the Local Government Finance Settlement, which is due in November/December.

The city council will set its final budget for 2014/15 on Wednesday 26th February 2014.

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