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Councils not yet convincing on cuts, Cameron

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Some councils are “not yet being convincing” on cuts they are choosing to make, David Cameron said today.

The prime minister insisted that local authorities should find internal efficiency savings before making cuts in services and charity funding.

At Commons question time, Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell (Colchester) warned that some councils and health trusts were “undermining” voluntary organisations.

He said: “A characteristic of the British way of life is its charities and its voluntary organisations.

“Do you share my concern that some local authorities and some health trusts are using the perceived cuts as an excuse to make cuts, thus undermining voluntary organisations and charities with the big society context?”

Mr Cameron replied: “I absolutely share your concern and I think you’re right to air it.

“In the case of the Department of Health, of course, there aren’t cuts in the Department of Health budget - the health budget is going up.”

The prime minister said health secretary Andrew Lansley was doing “everything he can to try and protect the very important voluntary organisations working in that department”.

He added: “In terms of local government, yes there are reductions in spending - as there would be frankly whoever was standing at this despatch box.

“But I would urge local authorities to look first at their own costs. It’s only when they can show they are sharing chief executives, they’re cutting out their own bureaucracies, they can then show they need to make reductions elsewhere.

“And in some cases, they’re not yet being convincing.”

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