Leader fears cuts will lead to very different council
CORNWALL Council's leader has said the county could look very different in five years' time, with a possible £366 million budget reduction in a decade.
The authority said it would lobby the Government to end "drastic cuts" which could see it having to make the savings over the next ten years.
It was announced on Monday that the council may slash £24 million from its next budget on top of £19 million already planned in medium-term savings. The huge cut is on top of the £170 million already saved over the past four years, with another £196 million expected by 2019, and despite an increase of 1.97 per cent in council tax.
Council leader John Pollard admitted at the revelation of the first draft proposal of the budget on Monday that the council, and Cornwall, could look very different by the time the cuts had been implemented.
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The unitary authority's last budget drew headlines for cuts to frontline service provision and it is anticipated that more could be made following the outcome of the next budget.
Mr Pollard said cuts in government funding had contributed to the situation.
He said: "Local government is reaching a point where it can no longer cope with very drastic cuts to its services and that's true up and down the country.
"In Cornwall we believe there is a particular situation where we are getting less funding than some urban areas and we need to lobby and argue with the Government about how best we can change that situation and we are working with the MPs to do that.
"It's not about cuts, it's about fairness. And it's about the fact that in a rural county, with a unitary authority covering a huge area, we need to make sure we are getting our fair share of resources."
Government funding for councils is expected to be £89 million less per year by 2018-19 than it is today, equivalent to the council's combined spend on a huge range of frontline services, such as fire and community safety, environment, leisure and face-to-face services.
The council is yet to determine how the £24 million reduction in service delivery will be implemented.
The draft proposals will be run by a series of portfolio advisory committee (PAC) meetings before being fed back to the finance and resources PAC on October 9. The outcome will then head to a special Cabinet meeting in November, which will then make a recommendation for full council to consider on November 26.
The council is holding a series of public consultations on the budget throughout September and in early October.