The government has cut central grants to local councils by £1.166 billion. The government say that no council would see their grant drop by more than 2%. But at the same time they have imposed a one-year freeze on council tax rises.
That may be repeated next year. In Scotland the SNP-led government froze council tax for three years from 2000. In any case huge cuts are being made everywhere.
Some of the councils facing the biggest cuts in central funding are Birmingham (£12.6 million), Liverpool (£9 million), Kent (£8.7 million) Essex (£7.5 million) and Durham (£6.3 million).
In many places Children’s Services are among the biggest cuts. Lewisham Council is cutting £2 million from Children’s Services, Nottinghamshire County Council £3.7 million.
In some areas unions are now preparing for strike action, for instance Kirklees. Here the Labour-Lib Dem coalition council announced cuts months ago — a massive £400 million over time. The immediate plan is to reduce the workforce from 11,200 to 9,700 to “save” £250 million between this year and 2015. The council is also cutting £2.6 million from its schools budget. The local Unison branch plans strike action. (Kirklees Save Our Services: http://kirklees-sos.org).
Other cuts include:
• North Tyneside Council (Conservative-controlled): £17 million cuts planned.
• St Helens Council (Labour): £5 million cuts planned, including £1.6 million from education budgets.
• Bolton Council (Labour): £15 million from its 2011-12 budget with 344 jobs to be cut (deleting 136 currently unfilled posts). The council also plan 40 per cent “savings” over the next five years. They are looking at merging libraries and museums, “changes” to adult social care, scaling back youth club provision, cutting frontline staff in e.g. housing benefits, cutting school psychologists.
• Labour leaders of councils in Southwark, Lambeth, and Lewisham, south London plan to “share” services to save money.
• Haringey Council has had £3.3 million slashed from its central government grant.
• An estimated £4.75 billion will be axed from the Scottish budget in the autumn. Part of that budget finances Scottish councils. Free school meals for all children may be first for the axe.
• The Welsh Assembly Government, which also provides a sizeable chunk of local government funding, is facing a cut of up to £2 billion over the next four years.
• Neath council plans £24 million cuts. It wants to reduce its workforce by 750-1,000 full-time posts. The council is now talking about making 7,000 people redundant then re-employing them on worse terms and conditions.
Unison, which represents around 3,000 workers, is due to hold two emergency meetings. The GMB, UCATT and Unite are also in dispute with the council.
Nottinghamshire County Council is considering handing over some of its services to the private sector, including catering and highways. They want to cut £120 million over the next four years.
• In Cambridgeshire, youth workers have been told to focus their efforts solely on vulnerable children.
• Southampton librarians have voted to strike over plans to replace at least six jobs with volunteer posts.
• Two Gloucester city schools are due to be closed.
• Transport schemes across the UK are also expected to bear a heavy share of the reductions in spending. The Campaign for Better Transport has warned the cuts could result in rises in rail fares, more potholes and fewer buses.
• In Bradford, a pilot scheme to provide a free lunch to every primary school child has been cancelled.
• Isle of Wight Council estimates cuts of around 220-300 jobs over three years, while Oxfordshire County Council predicted 500 posts will have gone by 2015.
• In Scotland, 10 councils said they expected to cut 10,000 jobs between them over the next few years, with Glasgow City Council says it could lose 2,800 posts.
• Medway council plans cutting £450,000 from children's services, £100,000 from public health and £828,000 from a budget to support struggling schools. Medway Children's University, which offers out-of-school activities for young people, will be scrapped.