Craven District Council faces 'challenging' budget cuts

Parish councils face penny-pinching if Craven District Council goes ahead and refuses to pass on cash support.

Council leader Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons) is recommending that “no further council tax support grant is distributed to parishes” following the announcement that Craven faces a 13.1 per cent reduction in its Government funding. This is despite an extra £33,000 “sparse population grant”.

Council finance chiefs are now carrying out a detailed analysis of the funding settlement, and the budget will be formally presented to the policy committee on February 11 and debated by the council on February 25.

A spokesman said that while the extra grant was encouraging, it paled into insignificance compared with the other additional cuts. Initial analysis showed that the settlement funding had been reduced by 13.1 per cent for 2014/15, with a further reduction of 15.1 per cent to follow in 2015/16.

Coun Knowles-Fitton said: “This settlement places the council in a very challenging situation.

“The hoped-for clarification on council tax support for parishes has not materialised. While government ministers have recently repeated a general exhortation to pass on funding which it isn’t possible to identify, without such clear identification in a substantially reduced overall settlement.

“I shall recommend that no further council tax support grant is distributed to parishes.”

North Yorkshire County Council also faces an “extremely challenging” future.

The council, which has already indicated it is considering the first rise in council tax for four years, says last week’s financial settlement is as difficult as expected.

“It confirms the accuracy of our planning, and unfortunately emphasises the extremely difficult and challenging predicament in which we find ourselves,” said council leader Coun John Weighell (Cons).

The council is on track to save £94 million over the four years ending in March 2015 and last week’s announcement confirms that it will have to find a further £77 million over the following four years.

Councillors will be asked in February to approve the authority’s budget for 2014/15, which is expected to include a council tax rise of two per cent.

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