Council leader says cuts to Peterborough's funding are a 'step too far' as he urges the Government to act now
Essential services in Peterborough face cuts due to a lack of government funding, the leader of the city council is warning.
Cllr John Holdich said services for the young and elderly could be affected because of crippling cuts which is forcing the council to slash its budget by millions of pounds.
The Conservative council leader is now calling on his own Tory government to loosen the purse strings as he warned the next set of cuts to the authority’s funding would be “one step too far,” adding: “We will have to make holes in services we were not elected to make.”
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, Cllr Holdich elaborated on his column for the paper last week where he said the city was being “short-changed” by the Government, with London boroughs receiving an extra £160 per person in funding.
The council leader said the authority is set to lose another £30 million over the next three years, adding: “Although we have lost 80 per cent of our grant and picked up a similar amount in extra services for children and older people’s services, we have managed to do it. I believe the next £30 million is a step too far.
“We will have to make holes in services we were not elected to make.
“We have to provide services to young people and older people so we will do it. But if we do not get some money it could affect the level we do it.
“If they do not give us any more money we will do our best. I will feel let down if they are not listening to us.
“I’m not the only one saying it. Other Tory controlled councils are making the same point.”
Cllr Holdich said his fellow 29 Conservative councillors back his campaign which will see him pitch to the Government for more money based on evidence such as Peterborough’s high birth rate, its ageing population and the high numbers of children in care.
He has written to the city’s two MPs, Fiona Onasanya and Shailesh Vara, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, and the Local Government Association (LGA) to ask for their help.
Ms Onasanya said: “A 200 per cent rise in the number of homeless families in the last two years shows we simply cannot afford to continue to do more with less. There are no more ‘efficiencies’ to make.
“These cuts in the name of ‘efficiency’ have created an environment of deficiency and many people are now in desperate need.
“I am in agreement with Cllr Holdich in that we do not receive a fair funding deal from the Government and the shortchanging needs to end before more people are hurt.”
Mr Vara said: “The deficit in the UK’s public finances is well known and councils have certainly played their part in bringing that figure down by two thirds since 2010.
“Whilst each local authority area is different, with its own set of unique challenges, the sizeable difference in funding per head of population is concerning.
“I will be meeting with Cllr Holdich to discuss this issue and will do whatever I can to help ensure the council has appropriate resources.”
A spokesman for the LGA said it does not comment on local council issues. Mayor Palmer’s spokesman said the mayor will discuss this with Cllr Holdich next week then comment afterwards.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the council’s “core spending power” is increasing, but this was disputed by Cllr Holdich. He added that core spending power also includes council tax income so is not a “proper measure of whether we are funded adequately by the Government.”
The DCLG spokeswoman added: “Funding is allocated fairly by taking into account the needs and resources of each local authority.”