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‘Challenging’ times as council budgets slashed
10:34am Thursday 27th December 2012 in News
Public services across Craven are likely to suffer further cuts next year as both Craven District Council and North Yorkshire County Council announced far greater than expected reductions in their government grants.
The county council is facing a cut of more than £10 million for its grant next year, and more than £12 million reduction in the following year.
The district council is facing a 4.1 per cent reduction in its central government grant for 2013/14 and a massive 12.6 per cent reduction in 2014/15.
Officers are still working out what the percentage terms will mean in real terms, but said the settlement was “challenging”.
The councils received their initial assessments last week and will receive final confirmation from central government in the New Year, but both are expecting the worst.
North Yorkshire’s council leader, Coun John Weighell, said the settlement was £1 million worse than expected.
He said the council had previously done all it could to protect frontline services, such as the care of the elderly, but it would now have to look at everything it provides.
In the past couple of years, the council has closed libraries or handed them over to local communities.
Coun Weighell said the original task of finding £69 million in savings had posed “considerable challenges”.
He added: “We are having to make far greater savings and to a very short deadline.
“The first indication that the council would face cuts of this nature came in August, but we didn’t know the full scale of the savings until last month. Now we know the extent of the savings we have to make is even greater than we feared.
“More than half the savings already made have come from reducing administration and bureaucracy.
“The council has done all it can to protect frontline services and will continue to do so.
However, we have now reached the stage where we will have to look at every service the council provides.”
Earlier this month, Craven district councillors rejected proposals to scrap the free collection of garden waste from homes and replace it with an annual £24 charge, which would have saved the council around £148,000 per year.
Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons) warned they now faced tough decisions.
“This settlement is very challenging, but we are working through the implications so as to achieve a balanced budget in February for 2013/14,” he said.
“Looking ahead to settling the budget for 2014/15, members will have some extremely difficult decisions to make over the next year.”
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