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Pain can’t be avoided but it can be shared
Few people can be surprised that Bradford Council is having to begin to eat into front-line services in its efforts to reduce its spending in the next two years. There can be little doubt, either, that the level of cuts and the speed at which they are being imposed will lead to considerable pain.
But, as with all bad news, it’s better to get it over and done with than to put off the inevitable in the hope that things will change before the hard decisions have to be taken. In the case of local authority budget cuts that is unlikely to happen, given that Labour have already pledged to maintain the same spending levels were they to be elected in 2015.
Bradford Council has to save £115 million in the next three years and has now put forward its plan for the first £89 million, with £38 million going in its 2014-15 budget and £51 million the year after.
With Council Tax set to increase by 1.6 per cent in each of those two years, it’s a sobering thought that almost a quarter of the total cuts could be wiped out in one year if the £27 million owing in arrears were to be paid off in full.
Whether the Council is right to make cuts in the areas outlined today – such as children’s centres, youth and adult day-care services and mobile libraries – only time will tell. But, as we have said many times in this column, we have yet to see convincing evidence that enough effort has gone in to looking at sharing backroom services with other authorities.
It goes against the grain in the public sector but private business, struggling to survive in this difficult economy without the benefit of public funding, will be bemused by the apparent lack of action in this area.