Today the Chancellor announced that council grants would be reduced by 7.1% per annum for four years. This will be excruciatingly hard for our council and other councils to work with. At the same time most ring fences (pesky central government meddling by another name) will be removed which should make the transition a lot more manageable for councils.
In June the council did a piece of work to look forward at its financial position and assumed a 10% cut in grant for three years and no increase in council tax. This gave rise to a 27% central government cut over three years, a sensibly harsh assumption at that time, which gave them a £53 million savings target to tackle over the same three year period.
It looks like the government will be asking for slightly less in four years rather than three. The council can at least now plan for dealing with this transition. It should think long and hard. The changes it needs to make must be strategic and must focus on the back office not the front line.
The first tranche of the council’s savings looked uninspiring and tactical. The Albert Dane decision that the opposition challenged last night was typical of how not to do it. Rather than mindlessly slashing the council needs to work out how to re-provide services. It has the time to do it.