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Bradford Council funding reduction is less than expected
A multi-million-pound funding gap in the Council’s finances for the coming year is not as bad as first thought, a new report shows.
The authority had been expecting a £38 million funding reduction for 2014/15.
Now a one-off £4m handout from the Schools Forum and a raft of changes announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement mean the cut will be about £6m less, at £32m.
But there will be disappointment for those hoping the news might stave off a controversial cuts package.
The authority’s proposed savings plan – which includes cuts to children’s centres, youth services and libraries – would only save £29 million if implemented in full, the new financial report reveals.
A Council Tax rise of 1.6 per cent would bring in a further £2m, but the authority would still have to find £1m to balance its books.
Its leader, Councillor David Green, said the financial outlook remained “bleak” and again warned of impending cuts to frontline services.
He said: “The scale of the Government’s cuts means that an impact on frontline services is inevitable.
“We are faced with stark choices about what services to reduce, what to do differently and what to stop doing altogether because the reality is that the Council cannot continue to pay for all the services local people currently use.”
And he said the £1m funding gap expected next year would increase to £15m the year after.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservatives, welcomed the “more favourable Government provision” which meant they would have more money than previously thought.
And he also pointed out an expected underspend of £3.7m in this year’s budget, saying the authority could afford to freeze Council Tax.
He said: “Labour keeps going on about the cost of living but proposes to increase that cost for every household in Bradford.
“The Conservatives won’t support increasing Council Tax while extra cash for local families can go to making their lives just a little bit more comfortable.”
Of this year’s underspend, £2.2m will be added to reserves while £1.5m not spent by children’s services will be spent next year instead, the report by director of finance Stuart McKinnon-Evans says.
The Council already has £17.6m in unallocated reserves.
The report says this would “provide the Council with some short-term cover” against the funding gap in 2014/15 and 2015/16.
The executive will meet on Tuesday to consider the report ahead of the Full Council budget meeting on February 20.
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