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Lancashire County Council leader: 'We're ready for £200m cuts'
LANCASHIRE county council leader Geoff Driver has said the authority is on track to make spending cuts of up to £200 million in the coming four years without slashing key services.
He spoke out after finance chief Gill Kilpatrick warned of further significant reductions in Whitehall grants as part of the government’s next comprehensive spending review for 2014-2016, due in the spring.
She said with increasing demands on services and rising costs, the county faced further big cuts in the next four years.
Despite last month’s local government grant settlement reducing the authority’s resources by 4.7per cent from £434m to £414m, Ms Kilpatrick said it had already planned for this year’s £20million reduction. Labour opposition leader Jennifer Mein accused the authority’s Tory leadership of ‘complacency’.
The county council provides education, social security, transport, highways and other services to Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley.
Coun Driver said: “This settlement means local councils will continue to be in a tough financial climate for the foreseeable future – our job is to manage it in a measured and responsible way.
“We are already doing this, which is why next year’s savings requirement doesn’t come as a shock. We have already planned for it and explained how we will deal with it as part of our four-year budget strategy.
“The county council is not a business but it must be business-like. We will continue with that approach.”
Ms Kilpatrick told the authority’s cabinet: “The reductions in funding together with managing increases on demand could mean for us over the next comprehensive spending review period a reduction of £200m.”
County Coun Mein said: “Geoff is being extremely complacent. We must be business-like to ensure the best value for money but we do provide key services to people that need them. His administration has done too little to defend public services vital to the residents of Lancashire.”
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