More austerity measures as council faces funding cuts again

North Somerset Council faces more funding cuts.

North Somerset Council faces more funding cuts. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Funding for services in North Somerset will be cut by almost £6million next year, leading to further saving measures.

Unprecedented funding pressures and demand for adult and children’s social care is ‘pushing councils to the limit’.

It will mean more pain for the public with a council tax rise more than likely going to be necessary, after years of cutbacks affecting roads, children’s services, libraries and more.

Government money for services in North Somerset will drop by a further 36 per cent in 2019-20. Its grant fallen from £34million in 2015-16 to £10.7million, meaning more austerity measures loom.

Deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees said the council is aware of the future cutbacks and is planning accordingly.

Cllr Mike Bell, Liberal Democrats leader on North Somerset Council, said: “Unprecedented funding pressures and demand for adult and children’s social care is pushing councils to the limit.

“As a result, less money is being spent on the other services that keep our communities running such as libraries, local roads, early intervention and local welfare support.”

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“Losing a further £5.9 million of Government funding at this time is going to make things extremely challenging for the coming year.

“Many local authorities will reach the point where they only have the funds to provide statutory responsibilities and it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences.”

The authority has already agreed to cut £315,000 from its children’s centre budgets over the next two years, while its grounds maintenance budget has been slashed by £150,000.

More: Children’s centre services and opening hours reduced in cost-cutting measures.

North Somerset Council is also set to lose out on almost £340,000 of Government highways funding in the next financial year.

The latest cuts in funding have been announced just days after the Prime Minister Theresa May declared ‘austerity is over’ after eight years of cuts and tax increases.

More: Council budget cuts leave district with weed, long grass and full bins.

The Local Government Association is calling on the Chancellor to use the Autumn Budget on Monday to tackle the funding crisis for local government.

It also wants a sustainable funding settlement to enable local authorities to invest in public services.

Cllr Bell added: “Investing in local government is good for the nation’s prosperity, economic growth and for the health and wellbeing of our people.

“It will boost economic growth, reduce demand for services and save money for the taxpayer and other parts of the public sector.”

Cllr Ap Rees says the drop in funding is expected and the authority has been preparing for it.

He said: “This is no surprise. We’ve said for some time we’ve been working out how we can reconfigure some services and that’s what we are looking to do.

“We’ve been working for several years now looking at austerity and the way in which we need to do things differently.

“We are currently over budget in some areas and under budget in others, but we are pretty determined to make sure we do come in on budget by the end of the year.”

More: North Somerset Council decides 2018/19 budget.