South Cambs face 27 per cent funding cut

SOUTH Cambs District Council faces a 27 per cent funding cut despite pressing the government to understand its fiscal needs.

Bosses at the authority had the formula grant cut confirmed in a letter from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

He confirmed the council would receive �5.2 million to provide services to residents during the next financial year – a cut from �7.1 million two years ago.

But the council’s total annual budget is forecast to be in the region of �15 million when money from council tax and New Homes Bonus – a grant paid for building new homes and bringing them back into use – are also taken into account.

Cllr Simon Edwards, SCDC’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “The council has pressed the Government hard to recognise the higher costs of providing services in areas of growth, and we are pleased that confirmation of the New Homes Bonus for this year sees South Cambridgeshire getting a fair share of scarce funding.

“People in this area are charged one of the lowest council taxes in the county, and despite Government cuts to our budget we are ready to meet the tough challenge and deliver for our residents.”

North Herts District Council faces a similar austere challenge but was recently praised for its financial resilience by accountants Grant Thornton.

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They noted ‘the council has a good record in controlling spend and in achieving efficiencies and savings’ with NHDC achieving efficiency savings of more than �1.3million in 2010/11, and a further �1.9m in the current year.

Reserves also remain healthy despite falling over the previous three years, and it has a good working capital ratio.

Cllr Terry Hone, NHDC portfolio holder for finance, said: “We are very pleased the report stressed our financial prudence in such a harsh financial climate. We work constantly to provide a quality service for our residents despite a steadily falling income and more calls on our resources.

“We will be examining the report thoroughly to see how we can offer even better value for money in the future.”