London Borough of Barnet

Barnet Council: efficiency savings mean no rise in council tax , but further cuts predicted for 2015

Published Wednesday 31 October 2012

Barnet Council is predicting further cuts in local government funding when the government announces its spending plans beyond 2015.

In Budget papers published ahead of the council’s Cabinet meeting on November 7, it is assumed that there will be a further 10 per cent cut in funding from central government for local government services in the financial year 2015-16.

The council has already faced a cut of 26 per cent in its funding from central government during the period of the current spending review (2011-15). This adds up to £72.5 million in cash terms. 

However the draft budget proposes freezing council tax for the coming year (2013-14). This will be the fourth budget in a row that freezes council tax.

Barnet Council publishes three year medium term financial strategies. This means that the current proposed budget will take the council into the financial year 2015-16, beyond the current spending review period.

Councillor Dan Thomas, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Our budget is governed by the decisions that central government took in its spending review of 2010 as it sought to lower the deficit and reduce public sector spending by £81 billion over four years.  

“Given recent statements from the Prime Minister suggesting that Europe is facing a decade of public sector austerity, we are expecting funding to local government across England to be cut again in 2015-16 and we are making prudent medium term plans that should allow us to avoid sharp in year cuts to services. We will also of course have to absorb inflation during that time and deal with a rising demand for council services.

“The council is finding it very challenging to live within its means but we know that families across the borough face the same challenge, so the greatest help we can give families is to freeze council tax for yet another year.

Cllr Thomas continued: “However, Barnet is better placed than many other councils to cope with the reduction in central government funding.  Regeneration schemes already planned in the west of the borough will potentially provide a gentle rise in the overall council tax take over the coming decade. Potential changes to government policies may also allow Barnet to keep more of the taxation generated in the borough.

“The council’s One Barnet change programme is set to reduce the back office costs of the council dramatically to the point where 90 per cent of savings proposed from 2013 to 2016 will potentially come from efficiency savings rather than from reduction in services."

Contact Press Officer: Sue Cocker