Council hit with £25m grant reduction

Coucil leader 'Barrie Grunewald says the settlement confirmed his worst fears
Coucil leader 'Barrie Grunewald says the settlement confirmed his worst fears
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Town hall chiefs in St Helens are reeling after learning the authority is facing a massive £25m cut to its budget.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald says the latest Local Government Financial Settlement has confirmed his worst fears.

The council will now have its grant support reduced by £25m over the next four years, bringing the total reduction to St Helens Council’s budget to £90m since 2010.

Coun Grunewald said: “We’ve lost 75 per cent of the support that we used to be able to count on from central government, yet at the same time we face additional spending pressures.

“The Government claims that the optional two per cent Council Tax precept for social care, combined with the Better Care Fund injection, will be worth £3.5bn to the sector.

“Yet independent healthcare charity the King’s Fund have calculated that this money will only bring in £2.7bn by 2020 - and only then if every council raises the full amount of the precept every year.

“The Government claims that it is providing greater clarity with this settlement – but as far as we’re concerned all it does is confirm our worst fears.

“Once again we’re seeing deprived areas like St Helens come off far worse. In less well-off boroughs the cuts amount to £220 per head of population – while in affluent areas in can be as little as £40 per head.”

Significant challenges lie ahead. As well as cost pressures in the care sector these include general inflation, increases in the number of adults and children needing support and rising levels of need, increases in demand for everyday services as the population grows and pressure on homelessness budgets.

“We also face increasing core costs such as national insurance, the National Living Wage and pension contributions,” said Councillor Grunewald, “which the settlement simply fails to take account of.”