More cuts will hit public services in Peterborough after an extra £500,000 was trimmed off the city council’s budget plans for 2015/16.
The council now has to find £25.3 million of savings for 2015/16 of which £16.7 million was agreed last Wednesday (17 December).
The additional money is needed after an announcement on Thursday (18 December) that funding from central government will be less than expected.
Under next year’s grant settlement the council will now lose £12.8 million which is £500,000 worse than the £12.3 million that the authority had planned for.
The news has disappointed the council’s leadership who feel balancing the budget is starting to become an impossible job.
Council leader Councillor Marco Cereste said: “Unfortunately the news is no great surprise to us in Peterborough although clearly we have done even worse than expected.
“Since 2010 we have now lost almost 40 per cent of our government grant. This is providing us with a huge challenge to protect vital services while finding a way to ensure that our great city continues to thrive.
“It is for this reason that we are currently going through the most difficult budget setting process that any of us either on the council or working for the city can remember.
“It also needs to be pointed out that the government’s claim that councils spending power on average is only down by 1.8 percent, 2.6per cent in Peterborough, is simply not true.
“This is based on some very misleading assumptions around grants such as the £10.7 million Better Care Fund, much of which the council simply will not get.”
For the first time ever, the council is releasing details on its budget in two phases as it seeks to deal with its biggest ever deficit.
It will now have to find another £8.7 million to trim off its budget for March 2015 when the full council will meet and vote.
The details of the second wave of savings and cuts will be revealed in January.
Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: “In Peterborough we have managed the council’s resources very carefully for a number of years now but this latest settlement just makes our job even harder.
“The increased savings of £25.3 million that we are now being forced to find this year are going to mean changes to services and some of those will be painful for both local people and council staff.
“We are doing everything we can under difficult circumstances and local people are going to have to work differently with us and in some cases learn to expect less.
“But even with all of this, these cuts simply cannot continue.
“Local government has for many years been recognised as the most efficient part of the public sector. Yet we have borne a massively disproportionate burden of the austerity measures since 2010.
“Economic recovery depends on local areas thriving. So far Peterborough has found a way to buck much of the austerity trend but I fear that many more grant settlements like this one will turn an already hard job into an impossible one.”