‘Significant’ challenges after council’s 9% budget cut
Crawley Borough Council has had its Government grant cut by nearly £1 million this year, it has been announced.
The nine per cent reduction to Crawley’s financial settlement - against a national average of 1.7 per cent - will create significant financial challenges, a council spokesman said.
Council leader Cllr Bob Lanzer said: “Some of the reductions we have anticipated but not all of them. We will seek to avoid cuts to frontline services, that is our aim.”
The council will receive £8.4m from government this year - £827,000 less than the last year, and £421,000 less than anticipated.
Mr Lanzer pointed to £7.3m worth of savings and efficiencies made over the past five years.
He said: “This council has done exceptionally well in continuing to make significant savings every year for five years while maintaining good quality public services.
“If we hadn’t made those savings we would have been in a horendous situation, it would be horrible for frontline services.
“We are really pleased we were proactive even before the recession and that we’ve got the budget in great shape, unlike some councils.
“We have also driven forward huge investment to the town from both the public and private sectors. I’m very proud of what we have achieved.”
It is thought the low settlement was partly due to the unusually high amount of business rates collected in Crawley, which stands at £104m.
Mr Lanzer said the business rates the council keeps as part of a retention scheme was a small proportion and would not make up the shortfall.
However when the scheme fully takes effect Crawley is set to keep £200,000 out of every £1m collected.
Crawley Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Northgate) described the cut as drastic and said it would have a massive impact on the quality of services in Crawley.
He said: “This impacts on the council enormously. There is now a budget black hole of nearly £400,000 that Crawley council taxpayers have to deal with.
“At the same time that the Tory-led government has been giving millionaires a £100,000 tax cut, they expect ordinary people in Crawley to shoulder the burden to pay for it. It is unacceptable.”
Council funding includes the Revenue Support Grant, New Homes Bonus and a grant for freezing residents’ council tax.
One-off proposals to bridge the gap for next year and ease the impact on departments which have already earmaked savings are being put forward.
These include looking into whether ‘capital’ projects could fall into ‘revenue’ spending.
Crawley MP Henry Smith said the the rates collected from businesses would boost services. He said: “Under the last Government all of Crawley’s business rates went up to the Treasury and were redistributed elsewhere in the country, by contrast the new arrangements will see our borough retain more revenue from the world class companies we have located here, so whilst we are still in difficult financial times as a result of the 2008 crash, this will be good news for local services.”
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Weather for Crawley
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 12 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North