Government funding cuts bite hardest for North Devon Council

The government announces reductions in its annual funding grants for some local councils.

NORTH Devon Council is set to be the ‘worst paid’ council in the county next year after it emerged the annual government grant is to be reduced by six per cent

There could be far worse the year after, with provisional figures showing the district council will be hit by a further 17 per cent reduction.

On Wednesday local government secretary Eric Pickles revealed a ‘new-look’ finance settlement system which would see far less paid out to councils.

North Devon’s grant for 2013-14 is proposed as �5.37million, a reduction of �340,000 on this year. The following year’s reduction could be �903,000 according to figures released by the council.

“We had been expecting a cut but not of six per cent, so we will have a bigger gap than we thought,” said council Leader Brian Greenslade.

“Usually the settlement is around the beginning of December. It is three weeks late and that has made our task more difficult.”

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He said the figures were partly because the council had been hit by a reduction in its government New Homes Bonus grant: “The council had a pretty dismal record of delivering new homes in North Devon prior to the 2011 election.”

The government claims the new system will see more council income raised locally instead of using the grant ‘begging-bowl’ system.

A government ‘spending power’ table which takes into account funding such as council tax also shows North Devon lowest in the county with a reduction of 2.4 per cent, while Exeter will get an increase of 2.3.

Torridge District Council has not released its grant settlement figures yet, but its spending power of �9.7m will increase by 0.9 per cent.

North Devon will lose �0.3m on its �12.9m, while Exeter will receive a �0.3m increase on �16m.

Torridge Leader Barry Parsons said the cuts were not as bad as had been planned for: “It must be emphasised the figures are provisional and could change when the final announcement is made in the new year.

“Subject to consideration by members, the better than expected grant position, together with budget savings identified by managers, should enable the council to achieve a balanced budget for 2013/14 without reductions in public services.”

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