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ESSEX CC FINANCE CHIEFS PREDICT ANOTHER TOUGH YEAR

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County hall finance chiefs are predicting another tough year ahead for Essex CC. They say more cuts could be on the...
County hall finance chiefs are predicting another tough year ahead for Essex CC. They say more cuts could be on the cards when the government

announces the local government finance settlement in November.

Early estimates indicate that the council could be facing a funding

shortfall of£30m next year. The council needs to spend£911m

in 1999/2000 to stand still. However, even if its standard spending

assessment (SSA) rises in line with national forecasts, the county's SSA will only increase to£881m.

Education will probably win a real terms increase in spending, but

government funding for other services may not keep pace with inflation and other pressures. As a result, Essex will probably have to make cuts in other services and be forced to significantly increase the council tax.

At the same time, the county council could also lose up to£32m when

the government overhauls part of the national government grant system.

Ministers are expected to announce in November whether they will scrap or cut back the area cost adjustment (ACA) which is paid to authorities in the southeast to help offset the higher costs they face. Any change would hit the county council hard by increasing the funding shortfall.

Lord Hanningfield, the leader of the council, said: 'Essex CC is

facing another tough year and some very difficult funding decisions. We will, however, do our utmost to give the people of the county the best services possible. We are committed to channeling more money into education and striking a balance to give people excellent services. We will do our best to ensure this happens despite the possibility of more cuts in government grant.'

The last two local government finance settlements have left the county

council millions of pounds short of what it needed to maintain adequate services. Essex had to save more than£6m this year to stay within government capping limits..

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