Education biggest loser in grant cuts
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.”