Council prepares to set “difficult” budget

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Burnley Borough Council is preparing to set one of the most difficult budgets in its history.

The process is set against massive cuts in Government grants – with Burnley facing one of the biggest cuts in the country.

The council’s Executive Committee will discuss the reports ahead of a meeting of the full council on February 28th which will set the authority’s budget for 2013/14, including setting the council tax rate.

The reports set out £2.1m of savings achieved to help balance the books.

Meanwhile, the council has put aside money to fund Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), extend the dog warden service, and Ward Opportunities Fund support. The electronic noticeboards in Burnley Bus Station will also be reinstated.

Coun. Mark Townsend, Executive member for resources and performance management, said: “We’ve been prudent this year so we can pay for these vital projects in the coming year.

“The council is also continuing its support for major regeneration schemes such as the new Manchester Road railway station and a direct rail link to Manchester, improvements to town centres and ambitious plans for the Weavers’ Triangle.

“At the same time we have to make some tough decisions in the face of the hardest financial situation local government has ever seen. We have to maintain providing efficient and effective services to residents while at the same time finding massive savings and severe cuts in Government funding.

“Unfortunately we are looking at an increase of just under 2% increase in Burnley Council’s share of the overall council tax bill but we’ve taken steps to ensure the impact on the most vulnerable in our society will be minimised. The increase is less than inflation and for most residents it will mean paying just an extra 7p a week.

“The council has had some success in lobbying the Government for the funds it needs to maintain services. Burnley is one of the few councils to which the Government has offered an efficiency support grant in order to ‘make up’ some of the main grant being lost. Not only is Burnley facing deeper cuts in Government funding than almost anywhere else in the country, we also have to jump through hoops and meet Government-imposed conditions so there is no guarantee we will get the efficiency grant.

“We are being hit with unfair and disproportionate funding cuts that will have a massive impact on the people of Burnley.”