Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Council leader’s fears over new funding cuts
THE leader of Worcester City Council has vowed to lobby the Government over fears millions of pounds of cuts are on the way.
Councillor Simon Geraghty said that he would want to make sure representations are made to ministers if the council’s annual grant funding was cut.
A new five-year blueprint for the council’s financial outlook was published last week which forecasts a worst case scenario of cuts of up to 40 per cent. Although the outcome will only be known after Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement in December, such an event would result in £3.25 million of new cuts having to be made by 2017/18.
A draft budget suggests even a 20 per cent grant reduction would require £2.4 million of savings to be identified.
Coun Geraghty said: “We published the forecasts because we very much wanted to give people a ‘heads up’ of the situation.
“It’s all about painting a picture of the possible scenarios and I like to compare it to a weather forecast, because in reality we don’t know at the moment where we could be.
“If the grant forecast is the worst case scenario it would require some very large savings which will be difficult to achieve.
“But given the general economic climate we are in, it is sensible to do some planning for the future and think ahead.
“Lobbying has gone on in the past to get the best possible deal, and there would be again if the Government does decide to cut the funding yet again.
“Whatever happens, if the Government imposes a further cut, we will be wanting to make sure representations are made on that.”
The five-year blueprint, which examines 2013/14 onwards, is known as the Medium Term Financial Strategy and includes a plan to freeze council tax next year.
The Government will make that freeze easier by giving the city a lump sum cash payment to make up for any financial loss, which is likely to be more than £130,000.
The yearly Government grant was expected to reduce by 28 per cent from 2010/11 to 2015 under old forecasts.
But a report published alongside the updated strategy states the drop could now be as high as 40 per cent, although the Government has yet to confirm this.