Council faces tough challenge after government grant is cut

UTTLESFORD District Council is facing an 18 per cent cut to its government grant – but has vowed to protect frontline services.

The finance and administration committee will meet on Tuesday to determine its final recommendations for the proposed 2011/12 budget which will then be debated at the full council meeting on February 24.

It is the first budget since the announcement of the Local Government Finance Settlement in December. The district council faces a front-loaded cut in its Revenue Support Grant of about 28 per cent over the next two years – the second worst settlement of any Essex council.

Revenue Support Grant in 2011/12 accounts for 39 per cent of the council’s total revenue budget but leader of the council Cllr Jim Ketteridge believes Uttlesford is well prepared for the fall out.

“The council has worked hard to protect frontline services, especially those for vulnerable people, and a great deal of work has gone in to scrutinising every line of the budget to find the necessary savings,” he said. “The council has had a savings programme in place for about two years now and it is due to this forward planning we are able to deliver the savings required.

“There is still much work to do to ensure the council can meet the challenges ahead but our plan is robust and will deliver what is needed while ensuring the public can still receive the services it requires. Uttlesford is a lean and efficient operation and well-placed to cope.”

There is no increase in the district council’s share of council tax next year.

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The council has identified that it needs to reduce its ongoing spending by �2 million by 2014/15, and the 2011/12 budget sees some �800,000 of those savings identified and removed. The majority of these come from corporate management and support service areas.

Chief executive John Mitchell said: “Uttlesford is at the forefront of local authorities in Essex when it comes to new ways of working and we continue to explore and implement initiatives where there is benefit for the taxpayer.”

The recommended net revenue budget for 2011/12 is �8,169,330.