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Council must find £25m savings

St Helens Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens.

St Helens Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens.

Town Hall chiefs must find £25m worth of savings in the next two years – which could put more jobs at risk.

St Helens Council’s grant from central Government – already reduced following the coalition Government’s austerity drive – is set to be slashed by £10.8m in 2014-15 and a further £14.1m the following year.

As part of their plan to balance the books, Town Hall chiefs are proposing “in principle” to raise council tax by two per cent. But it seems inevitable that the scale of the cuts, particularly in 2015-16, will lead to further job losses.

Ian Roberts, the council’s assistant chief executive, said: “Local government has borne a disproportionate amount of reductions in public spending and this is continued for 2014-15 and 2015-16.

“In addition to the general reductions in Local Government funding, the distribution of these reductions has been weighted against areas defined as ‘deprived’ and has resulted in significantly greater reductions than in other 
areas.

“St Helens Council will have lost £65m of Central Government revenue grants, the loss of the Building Schools for the Future programme and the reduction in general programmed capital investment support by 2015-16. Since 2010, the grant reductions equate to a 53 per cent reduction.”

The cut in the council’s grant from central Government equates to 13 per cent in 2014-15 and 20 per cent the following year.

It will also see the equivalent of £143 less spent on every person in the borough.

Chancellor George Osborne has also announced changes to business rates, capping the increase to two per cent for 2014-15 despite an expected increase of 3.2 per cent.

He has, however, vowed to compensate councils who are left out of pocket.

The council’s budget report added: “The budget position includes £9m of agreed savings for 2014-15. However the scale of the potential reductions in 2015-16 are so significant that work on resolving this position has commenced.

“A process of policy reviews, consultations and impact analysis will be undertaken this year to identify the key spending priorities and agreed savings required.”

 

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