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Copeland council leader 'disappointed' with Government grant

West Cumbria is facing the full force of the Government’s austerity programme.

Elaine Woodburn photo
Elaine Woodburn

Ministers have announced that grant funding to Cumbria County Council will be cut by two per cent next year while the grant to Copeland will fall by 4.6 per cent.

This is the money government provides to go alongside what is raised through council tax.

It accounts for a large slice of local-authority budgets. Cumbria’s core formula grant will be £134.4m next year while Copeland’s is £4.7m.

Allerdale Council has fared better – it is getting a 0.2 per cent increase and will receive £7.0m.

In addition to the core grant, councils receive some additional pots of money, for example to tackle homelessness and reduce the risk of flooding.

Nationally, grant funding for councils is falling by an average of 1.7 per cent.

Elaine Woodburn, the leader of Copeland Council, claimed that the cut in grant directly threatened services.

She said: “I am disappointed but I am not surprised. We have a Government that just doesn’t seem to help the local communities and doesn’t want us to get better.”

Mrs Woodburn said Copeland had made a real effort to make more than £5m of savings.

She added: “We’ve made a real conscious effort to protect front-line services.”

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the Government would offer support for the third year running to allow council-tax to be frozen. He said: “This settlement recognises the responsibility of local government to fund sensible savings and make better use of resources.”

His Labour opposite number, Hilary Benn, said: “It is clear that he is living in a world of his own, because he simply does not understand the impact that his decisions on funding are having.”

But Mr Pickles insisted: “Councils must keep doing their bit to tackle the inherited budget deficit because they account for a quarter of all public spending.”

His department has published 50 examples of where it believes councils can raise funds or save money, from opening a coffee shop in libraries to scrapping the post of chief executive.

Other ideas ending councillor pensions – no councils in Cumbria provide these – recruitment freezes, cutting spending on consultants and scrapping town-hall newspapers.

Unions have condemned the cuts.

Heather Wakefield, Unison’s head of local government, said: “Local councils are already under the Government’s financial cosh and these cuts will push many more vital services over the edge.

Have your say

My letter to the goverment regarding the mis-spending and wastage of public funds has been noted,commenting on the pow beck fiasco,the beacon and civic hall money wasted altogether just on these around £2 million,well ms woodburn and sidekick Jamie councils are rewarded for targets met not money wasted, your days are numbered and people in higher places than you are watching very closely.Stop blaming everyone else you run and make the descisions the goverment only recommends spending and tax revenues if you meet the targets you are rewarded if you fail you are penalised but you still try to blame others for this,other than deals with nuclear partnerships what positivity and revenue have you actually brought to the town.

Posted by James O on 31 December 2012 at 11:43

Cumbrian Lad, you nailed it.

Posted by Clive on 28 December 2012 at 16:54

View all 18 comments on this article

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