A government grant which helps Bucks County Council pay for public services will be totally withdrawn by 2018.
The council was anticipating having to make budget savings of £50 million over the coming four years to 2019/20. However, as a result of lower-than-anticipated grant from central government, that figure has risen to £66 million.
The government plans to pay the council no money at all starting in the 2018/19 financial year.
This puts the quality of services including social care, roads maintenance and supporting vulnerable children at risk, say council leaders.
Buckinghamshire and Dorset will be the first councils in the country to use the government grant entirely.
The government will also keep more of the money the council receives from business rates, in what is effectively a government levy to redistribute cash to less affluent authorities.
Martin Tett, leader of the council, said: ‘While we welcome the prospect of a four year Settlement, this proposal is far, far more challenging than anything we had anticipated. Not only do we lose all Government Grants earlier than any other county in the country but our Business Rates and New Homes Bonus will also be heavily cut. Coping with these reductions, while the demand for and cost of keeping children safe and providing for the elderly is growing so fast will be a major problem.’
Meanwhile Aylesbury Vale District Council will lose all of its government grant by 2018/19. Since 2010 the district council has lost nearly £8 million in funding from government, or 60% of what was paid back then.
The grant has been decreasing year-on-year and the council said that ‘actual numbers for next year are only £19,000 different from our predicted figures so no changes are needed to our draft budget’.
Like the county council, it will also be losing money through business rates.
Neil Blake, leader of the council, said: “Back in 2010 the government paid £179 per average household towards the cost of services provided by Aylesbury Vale District Council, in addition to residents paying an average of £131 in council tax. In 2018/19 the government won’t pay anything.
“We’ve planned for this and have been working hard over the last five years to make service provision more efficient and cost effective, and to create income generating schemes, so that we could protect the services our residents really value.
“This includes doing all the things residents would expect, such as cutting our senior posts, renting out spare office space, increasing charges for some services whilst still providing value for money and introducing new ‘paid for’ services.
“We’ve already managed to save £14 million since 2010 and, against a backdrop of massive change, this has enabled us to keep providing the majority of our services.
“This work doesn’t stop just because we’ve balanced a year’s budget. Our commercial approach to the way we operate means that we’ll be continually fine tuning our service provision and looking for new ideas to generate income so that AVDC is seen as one of the most efficiently run councils in the country.”
Here is a breakdown of the Bucks County Council’s grant:
2016/17 - £23.7 million
2017/18 - £8.078 million
2018/19 - zero
2019/20 - zero
Accumulatively, it looks like this:
2016/17 - £5m extra savings, rising to:
2017/18 - £9.5m extra, rising to:
2018/19 - £12m extra, rising to:
2019/20 - £16m extra
No change for 2016/17 and 2017/18
But BCC loses £1.5m in 2018/19
And BCC loses £11m in 2019/20