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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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'Copeland can't take any more cuts'

Cash-strapped Copeland Council has hit out at plans to slash its funding even further.

The authority has warned that it will struggle to even provide those services it is obliged to, if the government’s provisional budget settlement goes ahead.

It will see a 12 per cent cut in revenue from government in 2014 to 2015 which will fall a further 15 per cent in 2015 to 2016.

The reduction for the next financial year is largely what the council expected, but the authority will have to make further savings in 2015/16.

Councillor Gillian Troughton, portfolio holder for finance and HR, said that despite the challenging cuts, the council would work hard to keep delivering the services it must.

She said: “As many other councils have said, the budget cuts seem a deliberate attack on the role of local government, with the sole aim of reducing its size by making councils unsustainable. The government has acknowledged that local government is the most efficient public service yet is making these cuts. It must get its own house in order.”

The council this year has already made drastic cuts to its services, as it needs to save about £4m by 2016.

Some of the controversial decisions have resulted in Whitehaven’s Civic Hall closing last month, public toilets across the borough shutting down and the Beacon Museum being taken over by Sellafield Ltd.

Even though the authority is facing tough times, Mrs Troughton said its commitment to supporting residents has not changed.

She said: “This is why we have not passed on the government’s cut to funding for Council Tax support to vulnerable customers, and why we have supported the important work of organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau and Foodbank.”

The settlement figures are at this stage provisional, and councils have until January 15 to make representations to the government.

JBarwise@cngroup.co.uk

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