Another Tory-led government would spell the end of local services as we know them, a Labour council leader has claimed.
Durham County Council chief Simon Henig issued the stark warning as his cabinet discussed making another £16.2m of cuts next year, taking the total imposed at the North-East’s biggest council between 2010 and 2018 to around £250m.
Around 2,000 jobs have been lost.
Cllr Henig said Chancellor George Osborne’s spending plans for beyond the General Election and towards 2020, announced in last week’s Autumn Statement, would mean ‘the end of local council services as we currently recognise them‘ and told the County Hall meeting: “There’s now a very clear choice ahead of us in 2015, which I believe will shape the country for a generation to come.”
Local councils were expecting to hear how much money they would get from central government for the year ahead today (Wednesday), but the announcement was delayed until tomorrow (Thursday).
Durham faces much tougher cuts, of £32m and £39.1m, in 2016 and 2017 and 2015’s total would have been higher had councillors not opted to raid the authority’s reserves, to the tune of £10m.
The council has already cut around £130m and next year’s savings include £8.5m from children and adults services and £933,000 from introducing charges for garden waste collection.
The figures are based on a council tax rise of two per cent, although that may yet require a local referendum if Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has his way.
Opposition groups on the council have welcomed the use of the authority’s reserves and are expected to announce alternative budget proposals in the weeks to come, ahead of final decisions in February.
Source – Durham Times, 17 Dec 2014