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MP fears Bradford Council’s finances are being ‘pushed to the brink’

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain has criticised the Government for cutting central funding to Bradford Council, saying the Council’s finances are “on the brink”.

The criticism comes after the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the funding settlement for Councils had been approved by Parliament.

The department said the new settlement will see a real terms increase in available resources over the next two years and give local authorities access to over £200 billion from 2015 to 2020.

However, Mr Hussain has hit out, saying the settlement will see core funding reduced by half over the next two years and almost completely phased out be the end of the decade.

He cited problems at Conservative-led Northamptonshire County Council, which has run out of cash, as an example of problems caused by the Government cuts.

Mr Hussain said: “Bradford Council and other local authorities which serve deprived areas simply cannot take any more.

“The fact is these Government cuts are pushing Bradford Council to the brink, with a reduction in their funding allocation between 2015 and 2020 that forces them to reduce services against their will. There is a sheer unfair and ideological nature to these cuts which hit some of the councils that have the greatest need the hardest.

“It defies all logic to hit the top 10 most deprived councils in England with cuts higher than the national average, and it is time that the Government end this ideological crusade and help local councils who are providing services day-to-day that we all rely on. Plans for future funding arrangements have been extremely ill-thought out, with the Government expecting Councils to fund themselves by keeping more of their business rates, but at the same time preventing them from growing their business rates base by cutting the funding that allows them to grow their local economies.

“There is also no certainty of what will happen after 2020, with the Government failing to set out with clarity how Local Government will be funded after the four-year funding deal runs out, and it just shows how little this Government cares for and respects Local Government serving local people.”

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid said: “Parliament has approved a settlement that strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: a real terms increase in resources over the next 2 years, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council leader, said: “Due to Conservative government cuts we’ve had to cut £256 million from our budget since 2010 with more cuts to come.

“In 2013/14, Government gave us a core grant of £183 million, by 2020 they will give us zero. In 2020 the Council spend will be half what it was in 2010, just because Government is taking its grant away. Cuts have consequences, something we have been saying for years, but it takes the bankruptcy of a Tory Council elsewhere in the country really to hammer that message home to them. I hope now they sit up and take notice.

Bradford Council is in the top 10 rated councils in the country at using the money we have wisely and well. But such a significant cut at such a pace is impacting on services which, in any other era of government, would have been seen as essential. Caring for vulnerable adults and children is a non negotiable and we take our responsibilities very seriously in this regard.

“These two areas now account for close to 50% of our spend. While we have no choice but to raise income wherever we are able to, it’s simply unacceptable for the government to wash their hands of adults and children’s social care and instead expect council taxpayers and business ratepayers to pick up the bill.”

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