Medway Council tackles budget deficit
Council has promised to keep running all 19 Sure Start Centres,
despite having to tackle a huge budget deficit.
The ruling Conservative group has
announced details of how it intends to make the reductions, while
promising not to cut ‘important frontline services’.
Initially, the funding gap for
2013/14 was expected to be £6m, but due to unexpected reductions in
government grants and other pressures, this has now more than
It currently stands at £11.905m and
is due to double again in 2015/16 to £23.526m.
Among the areas facing a
multi-million pound deficit is the children and adult services
It has been affected by an increase
in the number of ‘looked after children’ costing the council an
extra £800,000, and recent government cuts of up to £3m to the
Early Intervention Grant, which covers services like Sure Starts
Cllr Alan Jarrett, head of finance,
said the council would not be closing any of the centres but there
could be some "flexibility" in what they do.
Staff will go without a pay rise
for another year, council tax goes up 2% and benefit claimants,
previously exempt, will now pay a contribution.
A £1.25m proposed increase to the
highway maintenance budget has been axed and £640,000 will be cut
from regeneration spending, after it was spent on Olympic and 2012
celebrations this year.
Cllr Jarrett said: "We are facing
some extremely difficult and challenging decisions while trying to
fulfil our legal duty to provide a balanced budget every year.
"Above all, our priority has to
remain providing quality front-line services to all of our
residents, particularly those that are more vulnerable.
"This will be the focus of any decisions that we have to make
when we put forward our full budget proposals at the beginning of
For more on the council tax rises, see tomorrow's Medway
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