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Local authority 'running on fumes' after chancellor announces £25bn spending cuts

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Local authority 'running on fumes' after chancellor announces £25bn spending cuts

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Central Government, Finance

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A council leader has said his local authority is "close to running on fumes" after Chancellor George Osborne announced further spending cuts of £25 billion over the next two years.

Barrie Grunewald, leader of St Helens Council, says that the local authority has been working overtime to balance the books in the face of yet more cuts to the amount of money provided by central government to help provide local services.

St Helens' grant settlement for 2014, along with an illustrative settlement for 2015-16, adds up to an overall reduction in grants of 53% between 2010 and 2016 – £65 million in total.

The loss represents a bigger sum than the council raises annually through council tax.

Cllr Grunewald said: “The light at the end of the tunnel just gets further away. The latest grant settlement has piled on the misery for St Helens.

“The 2014 figures include a general grant reduction of £10.8m – which equates to a 13% cut. However, the 2015-16 is even worse, with cuts of a further £14.1m meaning that we are looking at an additional 20% reduction.

“The impact on council services will be significant but, as always, we will be ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our community are shielded from the worst effects of the cuts.”

The council says that the latest cuts have forced it to propose a 2% rise in council tax for 2014-15 - equating to an extra 30p a week for the average Band A property owner.

Despite this, St Helens residents still enjoy one of the lowest council tax rates both in the north west and the country as a whole.

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