Ed­u­ca­tion biggest loser in grant cuts

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Weather - By ADAM UREN adam.uren@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

SCHOOLS could be hit the hard­est by a £3m Govern­ment fund­ing cut for Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil.

The coun­cil’s yearly Area Based Grant (ABG) has been slashed by 20 per cent from £15mil­lion to £12mil­lion as part of swinge­ing cuts made to save the Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Govern­ment (CLG) depart­ment £1.1bil­lion this fi­nan­cial year.

And a re­duc­tion in fund­ing for the coun­cil’s ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment ac­counts for al­most half the cuts at £1.43mil­lion, al­though the coun­cil also re­ceived a £118mil­lion Govern­ment schools grant this year.

Trans­port is also suf­fer­ing, with £610,000 cut from the coun­cil’s In­te­grated Trans­port Block, which is used to fund small road projects, road safety and cy­cling schemes.

As the ABG is not ring-fenced fund­ing, the coun­cil can take mon- ey from other de­part­ments to plug gaps, but the fact the coun­cil has £3mil­lion less than first thought could have huge im­pli­ca­tions.

In or­der to break even this year, the coun­cil is al­ready mak­ing £15mil­lion in sav­ings, which is re­sult­ing in job losses and the in­tro­duc­tion of schemes like the £20 bulky-waste re­moval charge.

And with the prospect of more cuts on the hori­zon when the Govern­ment an­nounces its emer­gency bud­get on June 22, Lib­eral Demo­crat councillor Nick Sand­ford said “grandiose” projects should be scrapped to pro­tect vi­tal ser­vices.

He said: “We need to make big sav­ings by cut­ting out grandiose projects such as wa­ter taxis and the in­cin­er­a­tor and re­duce spend­ing on con­sul­tants.”

But Cllr David Seaton, cabi­net mem­ber for re­sources, said the coun­cil has not had time to as­cer­tain what the true im­pact will be.

He said: “Al­though the money has been taken from spe­cific pots, the cabi­net is in on-go­ing dis­cus­sions with se­nior of­fi­cers to de­cide the im­pact of this.”

The cuts are con­sis­tent with the amount of Govern­ment fund­ing coun­cils re­ceive, with the £3mil­lion cut in Peter­bor­ough com­ing from £233mil­lion of to­tal grants.

Cam­bridgeshire County Coun­cil, which re­ceives £496mil­lion in grants, faces cuts of £5.2mil­lion.

Lin­colnshire County Coun­cil mean­while re­ceives £688mil­lion in grants, and will have a cut of £7mil­lion in its ABG in the com­ing year.

What may con­cern the coun­cil, con­sid­er­ing the county’s no­to­ri­ous roads, is that al­most £3mil­lion has been taken from high­ways grants.

Deputy coun­cil leader Barry Sin­gle­ton said: “Ob­vi­ously from these ini­tial fig­ures the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion for the coun­cil, like all oth­ers, is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.”

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