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20 October 2010, 14:45 | Updated: 22 October 2010, 16:24
Police and local authorities begin the process of living within their new budgets
Richard Howitt MEP has hit out at the cuts in Bedfordshire - telling heart "The cuts are too hard and are coming too fast claimed the county’s Euro MP Richard Howitt today speaking out after the Comprehensive Spending Review cuts were announced. The cuts are unnecessary economically and put the economic recovery in Bedfordshire at risk as well as being socially divisive. "
Richard Howitt MEP said: “We already know that Bedford Borough Council is cutting 200 jobs. Bedfordshire police face a £4 million cut leading to fears of rising crime and less police out on the street and that some Bedford Borough Council leisure facilities will close earlier.
“There is nothing fair about these cuts. Today’s announcement on housing means Bedfordshire tenants will live in fear. In one of the most unaffordable places to buy or rent in the country, council tenants will be placed on "flexible tenancies" with councils checking whether a change in circumstances mean they can stay in their home or will be moved on. But circumstances change all the time – and if you are going through a divorce or bereavement in the family you could find yourself on the streets.
Central Bedfordshire Council have told heart at least 100 jobs will go. Councillor Maurice Jones is the resources portfolio holder at the council - and says "its across the council - all departments will be affected, it's right across the board. These are jobs we've only just identified, not jobs we've previously declared redundant".
The belt tightening begins in Milton Keynes and across Bucks as police and public bodies seek to live in straightened times.
Sam Crooks, Deputy Leader of Milton Keynes Council told heart "I think the best way to put it - is it's a slight worsening of our position, but it's a manageable. We think we're about a £1m worse off on our revenue budget (day-to-day spending), but we're also around £1m worse off on our capital expenditure - which for a growing city is very worrying.
We were modelling around 25% cuts, but after the Comprehensive Spending Review, we now know it's more likely to be 27% - and that means we'll have to look for savings of around £64m over 4 years ."
MK Council is evaluating potential job-cuts, it could lead to 600 positions being lost.
David Shakespeare, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: "I appreciate there has been a great deal of interest ahead of the Coalition Government's much-anticipated spending review. This is a significant review, which will continue the job of tackling Labour's legacy of an unprecedented national deficit. The last Government ran up huge debts on our behalf and the amount of money we have all got to pay back is simply frightening.
"There will be implications for us all, but today's announcement will have touched on the headline figures only. It will take weeks and months to drill down and fully understand how this review will impact on Buckinghamshire residents, and as this information becomes available we will be keeping people informed. At Buckinghamshire we have not had our heads in the sand but have been planning for bad news through greater efficiencies and cuts we've made in our budgets. In the meantime, we will press ahead with our budget, planning prudently and always in the best interests of our taxpayers."
BCC is looking at the implications of having £31m less to spend over the next three years. Taking into account the £9.2m cut in August's Emergency Budget, which addressed service pressures and a reduction in the County's Government-funded Area Based Grant, and £52m already saved through efficiencies and Transformation, the County's total budget reduction over a 4-year period will reach £93m.
Hertfordshire County Council say they will have to axe around 1000 jobs. In a statement to heart, the County Council say "With staffing making up such a large percentage of our costs, it would not have been possible to meet our savings target of £150m and prioritise frontline services without reducing the number of employees.
There will be at least a 10% reduction in staffing numbers across the organisation (excluding schools) over the next three years. We will be ensuring that any job losses will have as little impact as possible on frontline services.
To keep the number of compulsory redundancies down to a minimum, some employees aged 55 or over have been offered early retirement on or before 30 October 2010. No additional payments are being made by the council, beyond what is available from the Local Government Pension Scheme, to staff taking early retirement."
Immediately after the Chancellor's Spending Review statement, Robert Gordon, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "The Spending Review is pretty much along the lines we were expecting and have been planning for - although the reduction in central government grants looks as if it might be rather higher than previously assumed. However, as reduction will be phased in by four equal instalments over four years (rather than three), it will give us more time to plan for the later years' savings."
Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority, Stuart Nagler told heart "The Police Authority and the Constabulary have well-developed plans in anticipation of these cuts and remain committed to serving the communities of Hertfordshire. We have been planning that Hertfordshire will have to budget for a funding shortfall of about £40m over the next four years".
"Now that the Government has made the announcement for Police service funding, we will be refining our spending projections over the coming weeks, particularly once we receive Hertfordshire’s funding settlement in late November/early December."
What about the future - Mr Naglar told heart: "However, Hertfordshire is better placed than many other forces to deal with the difficulties ahead. We have a strong track record of efficiency savings and innovative working. We are national leaders in collaboration and already share a wide range of services with Bedfordshire Police and other forces and agencies. This includes joint Major Crime, Scientific Support Services and Firearms. This work has now been given even greater priority and, together with internal restructuring, such as the move to a single Local Policing Command, and reductions in police overtime, it will help offset the budget deficit.
Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said: “The scale of the required savings is such that it is necessary to drive out cost savings across all areas of the Force and to challenge many of the existing approaches to service delivery.
“Despite these financial challenges, our Force continues to be consistently recognised as a well-performing and efficient organisation and every effort will be made to ensure these high standards are maintained.”
The Home Office cut for police across the UK is 4%, but Northamptonshire Police gets almost half of it's grant from the Communities and Local Government Department. Treasurer Rosemary Yule told heart "it terms of reducing our budget but still maintaining as many front line personel as we can, clearly that situation is going to get harder and harder and harder as the 4 years go on".
Northamptonshire County Council have started to look at savings with cash for the quarterly residents "Together Northamptonshire", has been cut. Work is now underway to work out the full details and impact of yesterday's funding announcement by the chancellor; however, early forecasts that the council will face the biggest financial challenge in a generation seem to have been correct.
£100,000 NCC provides for the "Together Northamptonshire" magazine will now be withdrawn, to help it rise to this challenge.
Cabinet member for strategy, communications and external relations Councillor David Mackintosh said "We know that people have consistently told us they want to hear from us directly about how the council spends its money and this is why we launched Together Northamptonshire with our colleagues at the police and NHS. However with the challenge now set to us it is clear that we can no longer afford to do this through a residentsâ€™ magazine. As an organisation we are determined to face up to our financial challenges in ways to minimise the impact where possible on those front line services people have told us are most important to them.
This decision is the first step towards this. What we are saying today is that from next financial year we will no longer be in a position to put money towards this publication. We are now looking at how we can still communicate direct to our customers in new more cost-effective ways".
Together Northamptonshire is a jointly-funded magazine from the council, police and NHS and the next edition is due out next month (Nov).
Councillor David Mackintosh Cabinet member for Strategy told Heart: "We've still got to carry out some detailed work to see how this announcement impacts on Northamptonshire, but it presents us with huge challenges - in fact the biggest financial challenge the council has faced. A total of 70 percent of our budget comes directly from the government, so the cuts which were announced yesterday (Wednesday) will have a significant impact on our income and will present a real challenge for us."
"One of the things that we were concerned about was the lack of mention in the Chancellor's speech about the A14. There was talk about the M1, which is welcome for people in Northamptonshire, but the A14 is a key hub for us and we really want to see what announcements come from the Secretary of State for Transport next week and how that will impact on the A14. One of the things we need to look at is the infrastructure in the county and how the local economy can develop and part of that is around the A14"
Councillor Richard Church, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration at Northampton Borough Council , told Heart: "It will mean some very difficult decisions for northampton borough council and the county council in the years ahead. it's going to mean that we are probably going to have to beincreasingly more efficient, that we're going to have to review all our services and make sure that we concentrate on our priorities.
But Northampton Borough Council has already made very large savings in the last 3 years on it's budget, finding more is going to be difficult, but we will do so. We were expecting anyway that our funding from government was going to go down by 10 percent next year. In fact what we've been told by government is not quite as bad as we feared, but it still will be very tough and we're already preparing our budget for it."
When asked about possible redundancies he told us: "We don't know for certain yet, but it's possible and that will obviously be very difficult for the individuals involved if it does have to happen."
Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce told heart "Although the anticipated cuts were always going to be difficult, today‟s announcement could have been far worse for business. The CSR‟s principles were reform, fairness and growth - growth particularly being something that Northamptonshire Chamber has supported throughout the year through its various activities and attended forums, debates and meetings."
"This shift towards growth should start to help restore business confidence and hopefully show small and medium sized businesses that it is time to invest. While we are disappointed that net investment will fall over the next five years, the
Government has made some important commitments to transport. Business leaders have argued consistently that investing in roads, railways, the energy grid and broadband will help companies drive growth and jobs."
"Unfortunately for Northamptonshire business, major improvements to the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton have been scrapped, meaning that there will be no relief to the huge of amount of congestion being experienced in the near future. This route is
critical for economic success and growth within our region, so business will be eager to hear how effective or otherwise any new proposals will be. The Department for Transport will be “undertaking a study to identify cost effective and practical
INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE HOME COUNTIES
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury says "Last year, Britain's deficit was the largest in peacetime history. The state is borrowing one pound in every four that it spends, and every day it costs almost £120 million just to pay the interest on the nation's debts. The consequences of not acting now are serious: all regions across England would be faced with higher interest rates, business failures, rising unemployment and even potentially the end of the recovery."
|Mr Alexander added "It is imperative that this debt is set on a sustainable downward path|
• Supporting appropriate infrastructure;
• Stimulating private sector growth in all regions; and
• Providing local areas with incentives and powers through devolution."
This Spending Review supports investment in infrastructure that underpins economic growth. Thriving cities and urban areas will be critical to the success of the private sector, and will increase the UK's resilience to economic shocks.