CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Leader claims county council has been short changed over council tax funding
THE Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council warned today that some very tough decisions will need to be made after the Government announced its funding for next year. Once again Cambridgeshire has been short-changed, said council leader Jill Tuck. The
THE Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council warned today that some "very tough" decisions will need to be made after the Government announced its funding for next year.
"Once again Cambridgeshire has been short-changed," said council leader Jill Tuck.
The Fenland councillor said: "Cambridgeshire - the fastest growing county in the country - will receive an increase of just £1.71 per person, less than the cost of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich from Tesco.
"Neighbouring counties such as Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, will receive at least twice as much. As a result Cambridgeshire County Council will need to find savings of around £19 million next year."
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She said last year's central government grant settlement was the worst for Cambridgeshire in a decade, has been followed with an increase of around 1.9% - the equivalent of £1.71 per head of the county's population.
"This compares with Essex receiving £3.47, Suffolk which will get £8.87 and Norfolk who benefit by £12.88 per person," said Cllr Tuck. "All of which is dwarfed by the large cities such as Manchester, receiving on average £13.16 per head increases for their population."
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Cllr Tuck said that Cambridgeshire's £1.71 will have to meet the cost of any increases in road maintenance, social care, respite care for children and libraries at a time of rising unemployment, when spending in the public sector is being expected to support the economy.
She said the grant increase of less than 2% against a county council average of 4.2%, was not only below the rate of inflation, but also took no account of the continuing increased demand for services in Cambridgeshire over the next 12 months and the increasing impact of the economic down-turn.
She said: "This derisory rise in our grant would not even cover the cost of a lunchtime bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich from Tesco.
"At a time when we are trying to cope with unprecedented demand for our services, the Government has given us yet another hopelessly inadequate settlement. Which is going to put us in a difficult position for next year.
"This settlement places a quite unreasonable burden on the County Council which is trying to find ways to keep council tax increases to a minimum - we now face making some very difficult decisions about our level of services and any rise in next year's council tax.
"We have only just received details of our Government grant and it is early days and we need time to analyse the exact impact on our budget next year - but what is already clear is that not only is this settlement below inflation, it is also well below the average settlement for all county councils. Effectively it is a cut in support for Cambridgeshire's council tax payers.