Leeds City Council has set its 2014/15 Budget. It is a budget set in the context of the most ferocious squeeze on Local Government finance in memory.IMG_6177

We are bringing you a series of posts over the next days, to inform you of the situation – and of the decisions the Council has made.

We begin today with the context in which Leeds Labour Council has had to set its budget for 2014/15.

That context points to the political and inegalitarian nature of the Coalition’s cuts.

The National Framework.

Between 2011/12 – 2015/16 local government funding will have been reduced nationally by a staggering 43%.

– this scale of reduction is the largest in the entire public sector. Local Government has taken much, much more than its fair share of the cuts

And it is far from over. The Coalition Government’s deficit reduction plan will continue for another 3 years to 2017/18.

The Leeds Picture

The reduction in settlement funding for Leeds in 2014/15 alone is £35.8m or 10.3%. That means a 10.3% reduction in income which had already been declining sharply since the Coalition came to power.

As a result of cuts plus cost pressures the total saving needed in Leeds for 2014/15 is £50m.

And, again, that will not be the end.

The forecast reduction in funding for 2015/16 is £46m or another 14.7%.

The Inequalities in the funding situation.

By 2017-18, funds for local government in Yorkshire since the Coalition came to power will have been cut by the equivalent of about £502 per person. Compare that to £352 per head in London and just £256 per head in the wider South East.

Figures released by the treasurer of Newcastle City Council, Paul Woods, conclude that the most deprived communities in the country are bearing the brunt of Coalition funding cuts while more affluent areas are being left relatively unscathed, with some even getting funding increases.

the ten most deprived councils in England are facing cuts this year of 25.3% compared to a cut of only 2.5% for the ten least deprived.

– of the 14 councils in England that have actually received funding increases, 13 of them are represented by Conservative MPs in Parliament.

Nationally and locally these figures paint a grim picture.

The inequalities they reveal strongly suggest political motives behind local authority cuts .

In spite of all the Coalition rhetoric, the broadest shoulders are not bearing the biggest burden.

And we are not all in this together.

It is in this harsh financial context that Leeds Labour Council has had to set its budget.

In our next posts we will consider the Leeds response in more detail.

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