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Government austerity steps a threat to city services

Published Monday, 21 November 2016

National government spending cuts are continuing to be felt by Coventry City Council as it sets out its budget proposals for the next three years.

On Tuesday 29 November senior councillors will be discussing the Council’s pre-budget report which lists savings of £21m over the next three years.

Total savings targets will rise to £36m per year over the next three years.

By 2020 the Council will have had a 55 per cent reduction in the government grant it has received since 2010 - the equivalent of £120m a year. 

The proposals will result in further reductions in the numbers of council staff through early retirement and voluntary redundancy. Since 2010 the Council has already reduced its employee numbers by more than 2,100 staff.

The Council will also be considering proposals to reduce employment costs further by reviewing terms and conditions.

Proposals in the pre-budget report also include a reduction in grounds maintenance in parks and street cleansing; a reorganisation of household waste collections; and savings identified in transport for service users.

Councillor John Mutton, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, said that Coventry’s predicament was no different to those of councils up and down the country. He said: “Councils nationwide are dealing with similar savings targets. What we are facing here in Coventry is a concerted effort by the government to place the burden of austerity measures onto local government. 

“That’s why we are setting out a series of proposals that we need to consider.  

“We have included further staff reductions; reductions in parks and street cleansing; and a reorganisation of household waste collections. A final decision will be made once we have consulted with local people.”

“We are proposing a three year plan in the knowledge that we have to deal with £25m of government cuts so we have very little choice.” 

Other proposals include reductions in the council’s budget for road repairs and resurfacing programmes; and savings across its employment support services.

Cllr Mutton added: “For a number of years now we have had to find savings and our options are becoming far more limited.

“These are stark choices for Coventry citizens but we are determined to achieve a balanced budget over the next three years.” 

At the same time the Council will be assessing the feedback from its consultation on £3.8m worth of savings to libraries, children’s centres and youth services.    

Despite the savings targets the Council has a number of big development schemes underway.  The money for these types of building projects cannot however be used for day to day council services because the money is allocated from specific one off funds.  

Cllr Mutton said: “There is also some good news. We are making inroads on a number of building programmes including the work around Whitley to assist the Jaguar Landrover development; the Friargate development; city centre public realm work; and the new water park leisure centre in the city centre.

“The money for the projects can only be used for these programmes, but this will ensure ongoing regeneration in the city. In the long term this will assist with job creation and will help to keep money in the city.” 

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