Pipe pans penny-pinching Pickles’ plans

Photo: Katie Gibbons

Hackney faces the maximum possible annual budget cut of 8.9 percent under the Government’s new financial settlement for local councils.

Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe yesterday condemned cuts that he said “hit the poorest hardest.”

£40 million will be slashed from the council’s budget next year under the funding reductions outlined yesterday by communities and local Government secretary Eric Pickles.

The Government is to take out 9.9 percent from the “formula grant” for local authorities.

Hackney, as one of London’s poorer boroughs, receives 60 per cent of its funding from Government grants, and only 7 per cent from council tax, so stands to lose more. Tower Hamlets and Newham will also lose the maximum 8.9%, over double that of the national average.

Mayor Pipe, who also chairs the London Councils group, suggested that the severity of cuts meant frontline services would need to be cut.

Speaking on behalf of London Councils, he said that “no combination” of money-saving strategies would be enough to make up the shortfall, and that “services that Londoners expect” would have to go as a result.

“London’s councils are already planning for improved efficiency, shared services and new approaches to service delivery,” said Mayor Pipe yesterday. “The scale of these reductions is so large that no combination of these is sufficient to protect the services that Londoners expect to be funded.”

Hackney Council said today they are “currently going through the detail to work out exactly what the impact will be on local services.”

Insisting that protecting frontline services is a priority, the council admits that “very difficult decisions will have to be made.”

Cuts of a projected 28% over four years to local council budgets will begin in the year 2011/12.

The heaviest single reduction will come in the first year after a lobbying campaign, led by Mayor Pipe, failed to persuade the Government not to “frontload” the cuts.

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