Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Local government settlement - unfair but Reading will rise to the challenge

Today was a day that as councillors in local government we’ve been both looking forward to and dreading – looking forward to because it will be an end to the uncertainty about government funding cuts for next year and dreading because the news was likely to be bad.  Apart from the fact that the ‘autumn statement’ is now delivered in December there are several other Orwellian things about the latest set of announcements.

The most striking is that areas of greater need are getting bigger cuts than wealthy areas - based on need apparently.  This is particularly noticeable locally with Wokingham, one of the richest places in the country, actually getting an increase in funding while Reading residents will be facing further cuts.

At the last policy committee meeting I pointed out that we couldn't pretend that the unbalanced nature of these cuts weren't politically motivated.

Cllr Willis (Con) claimed in response that the formula was not somethign that ministers got involved in.

I'd be interested in whether he continues to believe that following today's announcements.

I am confident that in Reading we will rise to this challenge but it is increasingly difficult and some of the choices facing us are now very uncomfortable.

I hope that residents will work with councillors to ensure that the impact on our communities is minimised and we can continue to make Reading a better place for everyone.

UPDATE: for any Conservative Councillors reading this blog (see comments) or if indeed quite rightly you don't want to take my word for it you can download the official spreadsheet from the DCLG showing changes in 'spending power' for local authorities here.