Braced for tough times

Tough times: The council's offices on West Paddock, Leyland
Tough times: The council's offices on West Paddock, Leyland
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Bosses at South Ribble Council say they are braced for tough times as they put the finishing touches to this year’s budget.

The full extent of a raft of saving cuts will be revealed at a pre-budget briefing set to take place next week, ahead of being finalised before the cabinet and full council.

While full details of the plans have not yet been announced, chiefs at the council say they will be hit hard by deep cuts in government grants, which will see the annual cashpot from the Department for Communities and Local Government reduced by 31 per cent - around £2.2m.

Coun Stephen Robinson, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We are in a very challenging time. The Government grant has been cut in terms of what we get and that has all been well publicised. At the moment, things are as well as can be expected but we know it is challenging.”

The council is expected to face an even tougher year than in 2009 when they were forced to announce cuts to claw back shortfalls of over £2m. This included cutting grants to charities such as South Ribble Women’s Refuge and SLEAP.

Last year, they faced efficiency savings of around £920,000 but were still able to invest in schemes such as weekly waste collections for over 4,000 households, and freezing council tax.

Coun Robinson said: “In terms of the wider picture, we knew every area was going to face cuts.

“The plans for our budget are not yet finalised so there is not a great deal we can reveal at the moment, apart from to say that we have been preparing (for this) for some time and really looking at how we do things at the council and what we can do to protect frontline services. We will have to draw on our expertise and make the right choices.

“Councils up and down the country are facing the same challenges. We are a smaller council and so our overall budget is not as high but we are doing the best we can in some very challenging times.”