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Dismay as ministers dither over cash
THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has expressed his frustration over the long wait over future cash from the Government.
Councillor Adrian Hardman told a meeting of his cabinet he was disappointed it was taking so long to get an announcement about the money.
As the Worcester News revealed two weeks ago, cash-strapped town halls expect to be told this Wednesday how much funding they will get from central government for 2013/14.
At the moment, Worcestershire is preparing budgets for next year based on forecasts, and is predicting a black hole of £900,000.
December’s cabinet meeting at County Hall usually sees the budget published for next year, but it has come and gone without that happening because of the impending government announcement.
A special meeting has now been organised for Tuesday, January 8, to make up for the hold-up, before a vote during a full council meeting the following month.
Coun Hardman said: “I am disappointed the funding settlement has been delayed until now, otherwise we would have been able to look at the budget properly.
“We don’t know where we are until that moment.
“I have to say from a council perspective I am delighted we are continuing to manage our budgets and I expect us to stay on track.”
The funding settlements were originally due about the time of Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement, but town halls were told a few days before it was delivered not to expect any details.
Ministers have been giving briefings suggesting bleak cuts could be on the way, warning local authorities to tighten their belts.
Finance chiefs have produced a long-term strategy suggesting that a fresh £22.3 million could need to be saved by 2016/17 to balance the books.
The gap is essentially based on predictions involving government grants, income and the economy.
That would be on top of the £90 million County Hall is looking to save under BOLD, which stands for Better Outcomes Lean Delivery.
Some of the measures include 857 job losses over five years to 2015, more than half of which have gone already, and attempts to ask communities to take on services for free.
Coun Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy and infrastructure, said: “We are having to deliver reform and I’m glad real progress is being made.”
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