Pendle Council secures Government cash

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Pendle Council has received details of its funding settlement for the next two years.

“The settlement is broadly what we expected and have been planning for,” explained council leader Coun. Joe Cooney.

“However, through lobbying Ministers we’ve managed to secure some improvements.

“We will receive over £700,000 of New Homes Bonus in 2014/15 so I’m pleased our efforts to bring empty homes back into use are paying dividends.

“And it looks like we will be given the very important Efficiency Support Grant next year.

“So far we’ve had positive feedback from the Government on our Efficiency Business Plan so we hope to receive around £1.02m. in 2014/15.

“We also expect a further £250,000 for the current year because we’ve met our targets.

“More significantly, the Government has told us that, because of our track record on efficiencies, Efficiency Support Grant of around £1m. could continue in 2015/16 and this will help us enormously.

“I’m also very pleased the Government has listened to local government and decided not to top-slice New Homes Bonus funding in 2015/16 for the Local Growth Fund.

“That will mean for funding will be retained in Pendle as it should be.

Despite the improvements, Pendle Council’s funding is likely to be cut by £2.2m. over the next two years.

This is based on the Government’s provisional funding settlement and could change between now and the final settlement early in the new year.

During 2014/15, Pendle Council is likely to receive £1m. less funding when compared to this year, and in 2015/16 there’s likely to be another reduction in funding of £1.2m.

“It will be tough and we’ll be faced with some difficult decisions when the budget is considered in February,” Coun. Cooney warned.

“We manage our finances very carefully and will be well prepared to deal with the funding changes.”

Pendle Council has just been praised in the Audit Commission’s yearly assessment for being efficient and cost effective.

Executive Councillor Linda Crossley, who oversees the council’s finances, said: “The Commission recognises that, despite the difficult economic climate, we’re still able to provide good value for money for our residents.

“We’ve already been asking local residents to give us suggestions on how we can save money and we’ll look at all the ideas submitted.”

In 2014/15 the Government is again offering a Council Tax freeze grant for councils that do not increase their council tax.

For councils considering an increase, the Government has not yet released the referendum limits.

Pendle Council will decide on council tax levels and other budget decisions at the meeting of the full council on February 20th.