Cuts to the amount BANES has to spend is a 'bargain', says Eric Pickles
Cutting the amount Bath and North East Somerset Council will have to spend is a ‘bargain’ according to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
The authority will have a total of £134.9 million to spend in the coming year – a fall of 2.4 per cent – which equates to £1,754 per household.
This outstrips the average cut seen nationally of 1.7 per cent.
But the Government was unable to say how much of this was central government grant.
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It only published its own “spending power” measure, which bundled together all funding including council tax raised locally, along with money for freezing the charge this year, NHS funding for social care, and cash for building new homes.
It is set to raise concerns over transparency surrounding the settlement and cutbacks by stealth.
Neighbouring Wiltshire will see the amount it has to spend reduced by 1.6 per cent to £364.8 million - £1,782 per household.
The Avon and Somerset Constabulary will also see its central government funding cut by 1.6 per cent, which is likely to spark concern over the impact on frontline policing.
The force will receive a total of £179.7 million in the coming year.
The Secretary of State said settlement to councils was a ‘bargain’.
Mr Pickles said: “This settlement recognises the responsibility of local government to fund sensible savings and make better use of resources.”
But 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 on the services and local people who use and rely upon them.”
It came as the Department for Communities published 50 examples of where it believed councils could save money, ranging from procurement, opening a coffee shop in libraries, and stopping having mineral water at meetings.
Mr Pickles said: “Councils must keep doing their bit to tackle the inherited budget deficit because they account for a quarter of all public spending and still get through over £114 billion of taxpayers' money each year.
“The announcement is a fair funding deal that will reward councils ready to strive for their communities and gives them another year to get their house in order.”Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “We have today received news on the provisional police main grant for next year, for 2013/14 there will be £177.3m for policing in Avon and Somerset. This is in line with our expectations and means we will be able to balance the remaining deficit for 2013/14.
“It is disappointing that the response to the consultation on the unfair funding formula which sees Avon and Somerset miss out on £20m has been postponed until the next Comprehensive Spending Review (2015/16). So once again our area will continue to miss out on money it is assessed to need.
“We are busy looking over the detail of the funding announcements and that of the community safety fund and we will be engaging the police and our partners in any future funding decisions.”