Council leader Kent: Chancellor’s cuts deliver gloomy prospects for Thurrock in 2013

COUNCIL LEADER, John Kent has slammed the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osbourne over what he describes as swingeing cuts to Thurrock.

Cllr Kent said:

“I listened carefully to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement the other day and knew it would mean we’d take another hit, but it wasn’t until earlier this afternoon I became aware of exactly how much this would affect Thurrock.

I’m going to talk about some figures now, but I also want to make it clear these are ‘assumptions’ as we’ve got to wait at least another week until we know for sure what the government grants will be.

However, the best information we have for the year starting in March is that we’ll be getting £3 million less in government grant for everything from children’s social care, caring for the elderly, supporting bus routes and helping schools to improve. This will bring Thurrock’s grant down to under £71 million.

It then goes from bad to worse. The Chancellor announced a new additional two per cent cut in grant from 2014-15. We were already expecting another £3 million cut, now its £4½ million, so that year our grant will be down to around £66½ million.

Government tell us to expect further cuts too; somewhere around £8 million on top in 2015-16 and another £4½ million the year after that.

These are the cuts on grant we are expecting from the government. It does not take into account such things as inflation (I’m not sure if Mr Osborne had noticed, but prices are going up); the increasing numbers of vulnerable children coming to our attention as families continue to struggle to make ends meet; or the increasing numbers of older people living in our communities in need of various kinds of support.

It does not take account of Thurrock’s increasing population or ageing school and health buildings.

It does not take account of supporting affordable bus services from villages to towns and hospitals, nor of emptying bins, sweeping streets, cutting the grass or even running libraries.

We have always expected a series of cuts, although it seems to be never ending and ever-increasing. We have identified many possible savings and efficiency options and the public are already helping with ideas to Let’s Talk on our website.

But as things now stand we’re looking at a budget gap of around £6½ million in 14-15 and nearly £13 million in 15-16.

If every cloud has a silver lining, I think ours needs to be literal not metaphorical!”

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