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Bradford Council fear frontline cuts over new £10m funds blow
Council leaders fear they will be forced to make cuts to frontline services if nothing can be done to reverse a £10 million funding blow in next year’s budget.
Bradford Council has learned of the extra cuts to its 2013/14 budget and while it had been working towards stripping £13.4m out of its running costs, adding another £10m to this is thought to be a step too far.
The Council has already had to reduce its spending by £72m over the past two years and is consulting residents over the initial stage of its next budget.
Now Councillor David Green , leader of the Labour-run Council, has outlined the latest Government moves which involve the authority having to find a potential £6.7m out of its Sure Start and Children’s Centres funding, and £3.5m which will be kept back by the Department for Communities and Local Government out of the main revenue support grant.
Coun Green told the Telegraph & Argus yesterday: “We found out about this two days ago, less than two months before we have got to consult on our budget proposals. If we need to find another £10m out of the budget in the next couple of months, it will be nigh on impossible.
“Even having to find the £3.5m is going to be tough. There seems to be no justification for the Department for Communities and Local Government keeping a reserve for local government when local authorities themselves have to keep a reserve by law.”
He added that the last-minute changes showed a “total lack of thought for the people of Bradford” and that he was “extremely concerned” about the situation they found themselves in.
The Council received slightly more than £30m in early intervention grant this year, which helps provide support services for children, young people and families, such as through Sure Start children’s centres.
Executive member for children’s services Councillor Ralph Berry said councils had been under the impression that funding for the extension of free early education places to disadvantaged two-year-olds from April would be funded by the Government.
He said on Wednesday it became clear that only the capital element would be financed and that local authorities would be expected to pick up the running costs from within the early intervention grant. The Council has been working towards ensuring places will be available and that the capacity is there.
Coun Berry said there would be a “revolt across the country” over this and that early intervention programmes in the district had worked extremely well, saving money elsewhere.
This “bureaucratic cut” was “going to hurt”, he said.
Coun Green said: “We are having to give very hard thought to what a local authority in Bradford will look like given these massive cuts we are having to find.”
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman last night said: “Both the department and Treasury have been clear that there are no plans under consideration for further reductions beyond those already agreed in the Spending Review and local government settlement. Anything suggesting otherwise is idle speculation.”