East Lancashire councils face huge cuts

THE government has confirmed that Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Pendle councils will face cuts in Whitehall grant of around twice the national average.

The reductions, close to those it warned of for 2014/2015 in last year’s local government settlement, will take millions of pounds out of town hall coffers from April 1, it was confirmed yesterday. East Lancashire municipal bosses hope to either freeze council tax or keep rises to under two per cent next year but warned 2015/2016 would see a stark choice between rates rises or massive service and job cuts.

Last year Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle faced Whitehall grant reductions of almost 10 per cent, and this year’s cuts are again among the highest in England.

Lancashire county sees a 2.6 per cent cut in its spending power as a result of yesterday’s settlement and is unlikely to be able to repeat the two per cent cut in council tax introduced by the outgoing Tory administration last April.

Its Labour leader Jenny Mein said: “In terms of next financial year there do not seem any major surprises. However, the scale of the cuts means that by 2018 we will have to make savings equivalent to 40 per cent of our current budget. As a result, the council will be much smaller and will look very different.”

Blackburn with Darwen borough faces a five per cent cut, Burnley 5.6, Hyndburn 6.2, Pendle 5.4, Rossendale 3.8, and Ribble Valley 2.3.

Only rapidly-growing Chorley sees a slight increase in its spending power of 0.5 per cent.

Burnley leader Julie Cooper last night warned its full council meeting she was expecting a second consecutive council tax rise of just below two per cent in April.

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