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How will your council’s budget cuts affect you?

Hand cutting the word budget with a knife

Yesterday, communities secretary Eric Pickles outlined the future of funding for local councils, with dramatic cuts all round and a new ‘localism bill’. How is your area affected and are you concerned about the cuts?

Some of the country’s most deprived areas (Tower Hamlets, Rochdale and South Tyneside, amongst others) will take a maximum cut of 8.9% in their funding, while other areas like West Sussex, Wokingham and Richmond upon Thames get 1% or below.

On average, said Eric Pickles, councils will see their ‘spending power’ fall by 4.4% next year. But where will the cuts be made and how will they affect our lives? Obviously, a lot will depend on your local area, but here’s an overview of some of the main areas that will feel the squeeze.

Frontline services

Services like libraries, leisure centres and social services will be affected, especially in more deprived areas where cuts are biggest.

We know from a previous Conversation – ‘Libraries – use them or lose them‘ – that many of you rely on libraries and would hate to see them go. ‘Thank you for further raising this issue and highlighting the value of public libraries! I rely on mine extensively for CDs, DVDs and books – it saves me a fortune!’ said David Jenkins. Another commenter, Pickle, agreed, ‘I’m all for libraries – they are cheap and are good community centres. Keep them as they are.’

Highways maintenance

By 2014-15 the road repairs budget will drop by 15%, from £834m to £707m. Just last month our Cars Researcher, George Marshall-Thornhill, asked ‘Why are the nation’s roads in such a sorry state?‘ and your responses show how much of an issue these cuts will be.

‘The state of many major [A] roads in Norfolk and Suffolk leaves a lot to be desired. The authorities are already saying loud and clear that money will be short over the next few years so highway reconstruction will be severely restricted,’ said John.

Commenter James Harrison argued that the funding problem is related to how councils pay for the work. ‘The vast majority of our tarmac roads are very old and our councils/government don’t wish to spend the money properly on deep tarmac,’ he alleged. ‘Instead they tender out to the lowest bidder a contract to spread tar covered with grit over the old tarmac, which looks good for a couple of weeks […] then, when the sun comes out, it melts and […] needs doing again.’

Police and education

The 43 police forces in England and Wales will see a 5.1% cut in funding next year and 6.7% cut in 2012-13. The Olympics has also received a shock reduction in policing budgets, from £600m to £475m.

Education funding has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, but there was a chink of light with the new ‘pupil premium’ announced yesterday. This will give schools an extra £430 for every pupil qualifying for free school meals.

The localism bill

Pickles also announced a range of measures in his ‘localism bill’. These included:

  • New mayors in 12 cities
  • People and organisations having the right to buy community assets like libraries, pubs and shops
  • Giving communities more power over children’s centres, care homes and transport, questioning how they are run and potentially taking them over
  • Giving individuals more power to overrule planning decisions

What’s your opinion on these cuts?

How do you think these announcements will affect your life in your local area and how will your council cope with the cuts? Do you think the government should target different areas or do you think it could have gone further?

Comments
Profile photo of jgh30
Member

Interestingly the Communities Department says (http://www.number10.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/CLG_FINAL-2.pdf)

” The Department will no longer hold on to power at national level” and the Localism Bill gives Local Authorities a general power of competence as Cluse 1.

But page 4 of the Bill (See Bills on Parliament Website) has a sub-clause:-

‘The Secretary of State may by order make provision preventing local authorities from doing, in exercise of the general power, anything which is specified, or is of a description specified, in the order”

What Government gives with one hand, it takes with the other.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
15 December 2010

Edinburgh is a tip at the best of times and an embarassment when you have visitors and take them round the place. It is treated by most of its inhabitants and by tourists like a giant litter bin and the council is rubbish (pun intended and not intended) at picking up after these people. I’m sure budget cuts are not going to help with this problem.

Member
Pickle says:
16 December 2010

It’s all a bit early to judge the local council’s response to the cuts. They keep talking about this and that and threatening to cut most local services – but nothing definite – yet.

Profile photo of mark
Member

It seems like the cuts will most affect the poor, the young and the needy. The Police, Education, Libraries, and Children’s centres are facing big cut backs. It also seems that councils in non-Tory areas will be suffering the biggest cuts – what a surprise!

I can’t see the point of the “Localism” bill. What’s the point of new Mayors except to cost us more. And it’s an empty guesture to give communities the “right to buy” when no-one has any money.

Many people think that the “Big Society” is just meaningless rhetoric. However it is much worse than that. We are all being given more responsibility but no more power and less resources to manage it.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Basically – The bites are coming – You ain’t seen nothing yet. The poor and vulnerable going back to 1930’s conditions – all the time spouting ” we’re all in this together”

This is yet another Condem disaster.