Spending Slashed: Council Tax Up: Cuts In Services: The True Cost Of The Recession In East Cambs
PUBLISHED: 09:08 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 May 2010
COUNCIL Tax increases, cuts in services and spending slashed: this is what residents in East Cambridgeshire have got to look forward to in the coming year as the true cost of the recession is revealed. This bleak outlook was forecast by East Cambridgesh
COUNCIL Tax increases, cuts in services and spending slashed: this is what residents in East Cambridgeshire have got to look forward to in the coming year as the true cost of the recession is revealed.
This bleak outlook was forecast by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) this week after it received news from the Government that its funding for 2010/11 was set to be significantly lower than it had feared, forcing it to look at tax increases and cuts in services.
As a result, councillors and officers are set to conduct a 'root and branch' review of all council services in the coming weeks and months with no service safe from scrutiny and cuts expected.
Councillors and officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council will now carry out what they have described as a "root and branch" review of all services following the news that Government funding for the coming financial year is lower than expected.
But councillors have made it clear that no service will be safe from scrutiny and cuts are expected in the weeks and months ahead.
Officers are also predicting a Council Tax increase of around 10p per week on band D properties in a bid to cover the shortfall and jobs are expected to go as the council looks at ways to claw money back.
The Government grant, which will provide the council with an increase of just £71,000 to be spent across the district, will leave it with a damaging budget deficit of around £900,000 for the financial year, and was described as a "cruel blow" by council leader Fred Brown.
Cllr Brown said: "We know there are going to be difficult times ahead but we as a council have got to get on with the job at hand, some tough decisions are going to have to be made.
"Though promises were made that Council Tax would not increase above inflation, the exceptional circumstances of the recession mean that it is likely that this will not hold but the picture is a similar one for councils around the country and the effect is particularly hard on a small authority like ourselves.
"We will be conducting a complete review of all services owned and operated by the council and this could lead to cuts in services but we will be working hard for all residents and businesses in the district."
In the short term the council is set to announce a £400,000 spending freeze to soften the blow, but despite making sweeping efficiency saving in the last year, it will have to look at increasing those savings to four per cent next year, putting further strain on already stretched budgets.
Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ian Allen, said: "I think there are some aspects of this that I don't blame the Conservative administration for. The recession would have hit any group in power and I think some losses were unavoidable.
"I do think, however, that an administration that wasn't so gung-ho as the one we have in control would not have spent so much money on consultants. I think a lot of promises were made when the Conservative group came into power about being careful with finances but they have spent money like water without thinking ahead. It is going to be tough to find enough money to cover the shortfall without some tough decisions.