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Pickles finds £85m to cap first-year grant cuts

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles will shortly announce that cuts to council grants will be limited to 8.9% next year.

Mr Pickles unveiled the finance settlement for councils in a statement to Parliament.

Mr Pickles has now found £85m from the Department for Communities & Local Government budget to prevent those councils most dependent on central government grant from being hit with cuts of up to 20%.

LGC reported last month that Mr Pickles had failed in a bid to win extra cash from the Treasury to ease the ‘front-loading’ of the cuts. Following the rebuff, Mr Pickles then instructed officials to investigate ‘reprofiling’ the DCLG’s expenditure limits to help ease council cuts.

Mr Pickles had earlier told councils they must continue to provide “reasonable” services to the public despite the cuts. He said local authorities would have to do “more for less”.

With town hall chiefs braced for cuts next year of around 10%, Mr Pickles insisted that his plans were in line with advice given by the Local Government Association (LGA).

“I have been offered advice by the LGA as to what councils can manage in terms of a reduction in their spending powers and I am well within those figures for the majority of councils,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

He said that it was up to councils to cut costs through measures such as sharing chief executives and back office services to ensure that frontline services were protected.

“I am expecting local authorities to provide more for less, I am expecting them to be able to provide a reasonable level of service,” he said.

“Local authorities shouldn’t have some kind of alibi in feeling that these have been imposed from the centre and therefore they have got to pass every single cut on to the frontline.”

Mr Pickles is also publishing the government’s Localism Bill to give groups in local communities greater scope to take control of some council services in line with David Cameron’s vision of the “Big Society”.

“This is about a new constitutional arrangement, it is about shifting power down to localities,” he said.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I remember when a labour council in SE London shifted power to localities by stating that they will do what their ward membership instructs.

    The unions became involved en masse in the ward meetings, and took control of the council.

    Surely Mr. Pickles is aware of history, and aware that the largest portion of this nation is apathetic about local issues, unless a form of minbyism takes hold.

    Is it possible that local services run for local people could greatly increase the costs of service delivery? No, the VCS will save the day, won't they?

    As to LA's needing an Alibi, I think there is far more need for 'an Alibi' in the civil service than the vast majority of councils.

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